In 1970, renowned author and philosopher, Francis Schaeffer published a little 35-page booklet entitled, The Mark of the Christian, in which he powerfully establishes love as the identifying characteristic of New Testament Christianity. He launches into his thesis by citing the words of Jesus who says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35).

While the forces of hatred are so clearly seen in the world around us, we must not be drawn into that way of thinking. On a personal level, we must “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone” (Rm. 12:17). Why? Because vengeance belongs to the Lord (vs. 19). Instead, we must not be “overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (vs. 21). The next chapter in Romans goes on to describe governing authorities as established by God for the punishment of evildoers and encouragement of those who practice righteousness (Rm. 13:1-3). We are thankful for those who are protecting us from harm and punishing those who practice wickedness.

Christians are not in a military crusade against the forces of hatred and revenge. But, we are in a spiritual battle requiring firm resolve and resistance to the ideas and strategies of the devil (Eph. 6:10-12). Many are the battles individual disciples fight on a daily basis in their struggle to do what is right in the sight of God. We have a unique opportunity to show the world the substance of our faith as it is expressed in love. What a contrast between the practice of Christian love and the practice of religious and political hate designed only to terrorize others and subjugate all who stand in the way of their own desires.

It is unlikely that history will remember kindly those who opposed evil in the gentleness of Christian love. But, if such should one day occur, may we have the insight to give God the glory. After all, our love is but a reflection of the far-greater love bestowed on us in the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:19).

–Glen Elliott–