“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
I am a Christian, which means that I believe in Jesus Christ and I have taken upon myself his name, I have accepted his gospel and I have agreed to live by his commandments. I believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as the Redeemer and Savior of the world, of all people who believe in him, repent of their sins, and are baptized in his name, and receive the Holy Ghost.
But, Jesus himself gave a specific commandment to his disciples, to those who chose to follow him during his earthly ministry. He gave this commandment as a sign and a symbol of their discipleship. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
As I think about my life and my interactions with others, I must honestly consider the question: Do all men know that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ? Do people who come into contact with me throughout the day know that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ because of the love that I have for others? Can they tell that I am a Christian by my words and actions?
That is a sobering thought, especially when combined with the story told by Jesus in the 25th chapter of Matthew. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)
Love is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) It was love that led our Father to propose his Plan of Redemption, it was love that prompted Jesus to stand and declare “Here am I, send me”, and it is love that asks us to reach out to each other and help each other return to our Father in Heaven. Love is the fulfillment of all of the commandments. “For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10)
Love is the great symbol of our discipleship of Christ. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. In a world that is ever so desperate for goodness and kindness, let us who call ourselves Christians obey the commandment of our Savior and love one another. And let us love as he did, without cost or caveat, but openly and freely to all who need our love.