Yesterday, we looked at how God does require something of us. When it comes to faith, we at least have to try. But would it surprise you to know that the things we talked about yesterday - prayer, worship, Bible reading - are not actually the things that God requires of us?
We used to joke about this in youth group. It was our pat answer for everything, always followed by chuckles. No matter the question, someone would pipe up and say, "Pray, read the Bible, go to church." But that's not what Jesus said.
Jesus didn't say that we would be known by how well we pray. Or how often. Or how loud. In fact, He said quite the opposite - don't let others see how you pray. Don't make a show of it. Don't do it out loud or in public just to show yourself to be a praying kind of person. Don't let prayer be your witness.
Jesus didn't say that we would be known by how well we worship. Or how well we sing. Or whether or not we've got perfect pitch. Or even perfect rhythm. (What beats do we clap on, again?) In fact, in Jesus's day, fasting was one way they worshiped, and Jesus plainly said - don't do this to be seen. Don't make a show of your sackcloth and dirt. Don't make a show of your unkempt hair and your hunger. Don't make a show of your worship. Don't let worship be your witness.
Jesus didn't say that we would be known by how well we know the Bible. Or how quickly we can find that verse. Or our most scholarly interpretation of it. In fact, He said quite the opposite - He spent His time railing against the Pharisees, who were experts in the Bible, for missing the point. Don't quote the Scriptures for applause. Don't boast about how well you know them, or even how well you think you follow them. Don't let your Bible study be your witness.
Jesus say, "They will know you by the love you have for one another." And when He prays for the faithful, He prays for unity - that we would "one-another" well.
Let your witness be your love.
That means that when we were sharing that old joke back in youth group, we were witnessing. Not by knowing the right things to say or by talking about the right things to do. No, we were witnessing by our joy, by laughing together, by sharing this joke, this story, this thing that united us. We were one-anothering. And that's how the world should have recognized us.
That's how they should have known we were His.
I wish we understood that in the church. I wish we knew that what we need to be witnessing to the world is not the best or newest or most favorite styles of worship. I wish we knew that what we need to be witnessing to the world is not some borderline-scandalous gritty application of Scripture or some heretical twisting of the Gospel of Grace into good news for the financially poor. I wish we knew that what we need to be witnessing to the world is not how long or fervently or earnestly we pray. All of these things are important, but it's not how the world will know us.
They will know us by our love. And I wish the church knew that.
I wish we knew that when the world walks in our doors, what they need to see is people loving each other. Really loving each other. They need to see us sitting together, not spaced out by families with a few extra seats in the middle. They need to see us breaking bread together, not retreating into our own laps with bowed heads and clinched fists. They need to see us sharing our resources, coming to one another's aid, lending a hand, lending an ear, leaning together toward the Cross. They need to see us laughing, celebrating, joking around, sharing our stories. Sharing our lives. They need to see us one-anothering. Because Jesus said that's how they're going to know us.
Not by how much we love Him, but by how well we love each other.