In the business world, everyone pays much attention to customer feedback and “moments of truth” because they help organisations improve their products and services so as to remain relevant. Similarly, we Christians should pay attention to what people of other faith have to say about us so as to have our “moments of truth”. This is what a famous man of another faith once said about Christians: “I know of no one who has done more for humanity than Jesus. In fact, there is nothing wrong with Christianity … The trouble is with you Christians. You do not live up to your own teachings.” (Mahatma Gandhi)
Can we handle the truth? Should we take his feedback seriously and try to improve our conduct with the grace of God for His glory or should we brush it off claiming that he is ignorant of our faith and should not cast judgement on all Christians? Our decision will determine whether we will distance or draw people to Christ. The Apostle Peter told the early Christians: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)
What kind of visitation was Peter referring to? The prevailing use of the word in the New Testament would lead us to suppose that the “visitation” referred to was designed to confer favours rather than to inflict punishment. Indeed the word has been familiarly used by Christians to denote God’s coming to bless His people; to pour out His Spirit upon them; to revive religion. This seems to me to be its meaning here; and, if so, when God appeared among people to accompany the preaching of the gospel with saving power, the result of the observed conduct of Christians would be to lead those around them to honour Him by giving up their hearts to Him; that is, their consistent lives would be the means of the revival and extension of true religion. And is it not always so? Is not the pure and holy walk of Christians an occasion of His visitation to bless dying sinners, and to scatter spiritual blessings with a liberal hand?
Christ gave his disciples only one new commandment: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”, and “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) He gave them this commandment as he was about to leave them, to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others. It is called new, not because there was no command before which required people to love their fellow-man, for one great precept of the law was that they should love their neighbour as themselves Leviticus 19:18; but it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of people had been known and distinguished.
The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, etc.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known. But in the case of Christians they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honours; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other.
This was to surmount all distinction of country, of colour, of rank, of office, of sect. Here they were to feel that they were on the same level, that they had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and were going to the same heaven. They were to befriend each other in trials; be careful of each other’s feelings and reputation; deny themselves to promote each other’s welfare. (Cf. 1 John 3:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Galatians 6:2; 2 Peter 1:7) In all these places the command of Jesus is repeated or referred to, and it shows that the first disciples considered this indeed as the special law of Christ.
This command or law was, moreover, new in regard to the extent to which this love was to be carried out; for he immediately adds, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” His love for them was strong, continued, unremitting, and he was now about to show his love for them in death. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) So in 1 John 3:16 it is said that: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” This was a new expression of love; and it showed the strength of attachment which we ought to have for our brothers and sisters, and how ready we should be to endure hardships, to encounter dangers, and to practice self-denial, to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.
Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, has come into the world more than two thousand years ago to show us the reason to live. He has walked the talk, and has atoned for our sins and the sins of the whole world by dying on the cross (Cf. 1 john 2:2). It is now our turn to reciprocate His love for us by loving Him and our neighbour. Let the song “We Are the Reason” remind us of our raison d’être as Christians and the price Christ has paid for our sins: