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They Will Know Us by Our Love

A global pandemic. A modern civil rights movement. A major political election. It’s a lot to process and handle all at once. What seemed like might just be a few short months, life with this pandemic is turning into a long road filled with many blind corners.

When will we go back to “normal”? Not even the best experts can be certain. And what will “normal” really look like? The restlessness across the country is evident and the responses from people vary from taking extreme caution to completely throwing caution to the wind. Who is right?

There continues to be both peaceful protest and civil unrest in parts of the country as we reckon with our country’s long history of racial issues and the systemic consequences. Some of the noise seems to have died down, but the reckoning is not over.

Simultaneously, we are in the midst of a major election year. Up until this global pandemic and modern civil rights movement, I didn’t think there was anything more divisive than politics. Nonetheless, the soundbites and pithy one liners are being flung left and right—and if you’re not careful, you might get caught in the crossfire.

How should we as Christ followers respond?

Colossians 4:5-6 says,

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

In this passage, Paul is talking to the church in Colossae. He is writing them because other philosophies and ideas have been competing with the ultimate truth that only Christ is the way to eternal salvation.

In this portion of the text in particular, Paul is encouraging the church to engage with those outside the church in a way that is filled with grace—the Greek meaning for grace here included pleasant and graceful speech. I can’t help but think this applies so perfectly to where we find ourselves today.

When we hear someone’s position on an issue that we do not agree with, how do we respond? Do we knee-jerk react and quickly defend what we believe to be the correct opinion?

Don’t forget, Paul is emphasizing the church’s response to the outsider in these verses—these verses are at the end of the book.

Paul begins Colossians talking to the church.

If you read the chapters leading up to the fourth, you will notice he has spent considerable time emphasizing to the church the supremacy of Christ, the one true God. He states in Colossians 2:2-3,

“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Paul is pulling the church away from the deceptive philosophies and ideologies that any deity or piece of knowledge can provide the salvation that we know only comes from Christ. He is really, in my perception, pulling their hearts and minds out of the sand to see what they really need to focus on; receive, and live in—the full knowledge of Christ as the one true God who reigns supreme.

And, before Paul encourages the church on how to interact with the outsider, he addresses how they should live in peace and harmony with one another.

In chapter 3 verses 12-14 he says,

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

He’s calling the church to unity under Christ’s supremacy and reminding them to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. It’s then that they can bear with one another, be bound in perfect unity, then—and only then—can they be wise in the way they act toward outsiders and make the most of every opportunity by having conversations full of grace and seasoned with salt.

Nothing is impossible.

There is a part of me that feels foolish even suggesting that it’s possible for the body of believers to show unity in Christ in this way. Within the proverbial walls of our various church bodies we have as many opinions as we have people. And we do, quite often in fact, think that God shares our opinion on matters—whether He has clearly defined them in His Word or not.

However, there is a greater part of me that believes in a supernatural God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And that, if this supernatural God of ours determined these portions of Scripture to be His Word, well then, I am nothing but forced to trust that when He says what is impossible with man, is possible with God, then even this is possible.

There is a song that I tend to play on repeat in times like this. It is written by Christy Nockels and is called, By Our Love. (click to listen)

Brothers, let us come together
Walking in the Spirit, there’s much to be done
We will come reaching, out from our comforts
And they will know us by our love

Sisters, we were made for kindness
We can pierce the darkness as He shines through us
We will come reaching, with a song of healing
And they will know us by our love!

The time is now
Come Church arise
Love with His hands
See with His eyes
Bind it around you
Let it never leave you
And they will know us by our love

Children, You are hope for justice
Stand firm in the Truth now, set your hearts above
You will be reaching, long after we’re gone
And they will know you by your love!

What would it look like if the love between us was louder than any issue that divides us? What would it look like if we loved with His hands and saw with His eyes?

I think we would see people and the fears in their eyes. I think we would see people and the plight of their personal story. I think we would see people and the long road they have traveled to be where they are. I think we would see people first and everything else second.

If this message resonates with you, would you consider taking a step of faith? Reach out to a friend or acquaintance who loves Jesus, but who you are certain differs in their opinion on something of importance to you. Try to have a socially distanced coffee date, Zoom call, or backyard hangout. Get to know them on a deeper level and see if your heart softens towards those that hold those differing opinions. I am certain it will.

The time is now
Come Church arise
Love with His hands
See with His eyes
Bind it around you
Let it never leave you
And they will know us by our love

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Lindsey Zarob
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