In Charles Dickens’s story, A Christmas Carol, the miserly and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge lives a solitary, stingy life. But a series of ghosts visit his dreams to show him a different life—one filled with the love of family and friends. In response, Scrooge awakens from his dream and immediately embarks on a new life of joy and shared human kindness.
The love that we have for one another in the church can be one of the most winsome and powerful tools for our evangelism. In today’s passage, Jesus commands His disciples to love one another (13:34). Love is central to God’s nature (1 John 4:8), and so love must be central to the nature of His body, the church. God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die for us so that we might have a loving relationship with Him. And because we have been loved by God, we overflow in love for one another.
This mutual love testifies to Christ at work in us. This is the only explanation for why people of different ages, genders, races, and economic classes would come together in the church. It is the only explanation for why we would pray for one another, bear one another’s burdens, and love one another more than we love ourselves. The church father Tertullian described pagans observing the Christians around them with amazement, saying, “Look how they love one another!”
We cannot demonstrate God’s love in solitude. Only as a holy community—gathered together as the church—do we have an opportunity to present to the world the kind of winsome family love that Jesus commanded. As the ghosts encouraged Ebenezer Scrooge to look through the holiday windows, God can use our fellowship to invite our friends and neighbors to share this loving life.
One winsome way that the gospel is demonstrated in the world is through the love that Christians have for one another. Our acts of kindness—praying for one another, greeting one another with a smile, bringing casseroles, and sending birthday cards—testify to the work of Christ in us and encourage others to come and join us.