I was a teenager on spring break in Gulf Shores, Alabama, mesmerized by a group of hippie-looking young people on the beach. They swayed and sang, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord… and we pray that our unity will one day be restored. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” I was transfixed on the voices and lyrics. The soul-stirring minor key brought tears.
I wanted what they had.
I found the original recording of the song online and tears came again. Voices sang rich with meaning. The song was penned in 1966 by a Catholic priest. It earned the title “anthem of the Jesus Movement.” Folk music was popular in the sixties and often pointed to the societal upheaval of that time. This song offered a message of faith for young people who looked for meaning amid the confusion in that era.
God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3:16-17 NIV
My chest was heavy. Is the world drawn to us by our love or do we give unbelievers reasons to stay away? Is this our anthem for 2021?
We’re quick to criticize each other. It’s easy to bash Christian leaders. “Christians” have videos dedicated to sharing leaders’ mistakes. One critiqued an esteemed pastor with absurd specificity. I was angry. This was his livelihood. Followers equal dollars. His unsavory mission is to cancel Christian pastors.
In Matthew 23:24, Jesus rebuked religious leaders for keeping part of the law but overlooking important elements: justice, mercy and faithfulness. “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel,” He said. NIV
We call 1 Corinthians 13 the love chapter. Verse six says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” Love is the most important attribute.
A person discovers a fuzzy cell phone photo. He cites questionable activity in order to cancel a popular pastor who’s served God for thirty years. The person is now deemed, by him, unworthy to influence the world for Jesus.
A Christian woman gives an inspiring talk to a group of ladies. She misspeaks, and that phrase is what’s remembered. She’s taught the Bible her entire adult life, but will be known for her error.
We might expect unbelievers to slam each other publicly, but we’re called to a different standard.
I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as my followers if you demonstrate your love to others.John 13:34-35 The Voice
Scores of godly Christians teach us well. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom to discern. Leaders make mistakes. We’re to give them the grace we’d want to receive if we were in their shoes. What if our focus was on the good they’ve done?
We should steer our children—natural or spiritual—to solid biblical teaching. It’s how we care for ones we love.
There are times to inject truth into public conversations, when there’s obvious error. And some leaders have made serious blunders. But few of us are called to publicly critique other Christians.
This verse comes to mind:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?’ You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”Matthew 7:3-5
How dare we dismiss a person for a minor mistake in exchange for thirty years of preaching his heart out? Let’s celebrate the thousands who’ve come to Jesus because of his message.
I sometimes wonder, when I peer into a person’s life, if he’s a true Christian. I’ve learned, the answer is between God and him. I’ll never know the complete picture. My time’s better spent examining my own heart. When we have insight into someone’s error, what if we pray for the person? “God, please fill them with truth.”
I’m glad Jesus wasn’t caught on camera when He made a whip from cords, drove animals from the temple, scattered coins and overturned tables of money changers. Can you imagine the headlines? Read John 2:14-16.
King David committed murder and adultery. What if a news station had caught him in deception and sin? He’d swiftly disappear, never to be heard from again. His lineage would’ve been cancelled. Jesus would not be called the ‘Son of David’. God sent the prophet Nathan to correct David. David repented. God uses proper methods and channels to correct His people. Read 2 Samuel 12.
We try to create our own little culture with friends who are like us. It’s easy to dismiss people who see things differently. Will we be surprised to see who’s seated next to us at the marriage supper of the Lamb? The table won’t be small. All who’ve confessed Jesus as Lord will gather together. Read Revelation 19:7-10
The pillow on our guest bed says “Home is where they have to let you in”. Our forever home is in the Body of Christ. We’re joined together by God’s sovereignty. In heaven, we’ll be one in the Spirit and one in the Lord. Our differences won’t be the focus.
There are millions of unsung surrendered heroes who lay their lives down daily for the Kingdom. They haven’t given in to popular cancel culture.
I want us to be like them—to show the world what it really means to be Christians.
We’re all still learning how to love each other. I hope the world will notice.
Love, not scandal, drew me to Jesus.