What identifies a follower of Jesus? Certain labels may come to some minds in exposing a Jesus follower, such as denominational affiliations or schools of theological training. Possessing solid doctrine might be a key identifier to others, while doing the right things, such as maximizing the good and minimizing the evil might be traits that convince many more that people belong to Jesus.
While such traits might identify someone who walks with Jesus, they are not what Jesus mentions as the conclusive evidence that a group of people or individual who claim His Name, truly belong to the family of God. According to Jesus, there is one central trait that marks a person or a group as belonging to Him – love! Jesus said,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John, the Apostle, who was present when these words were uttered and penned them, continued to emphasize love in his other writings as well and reiterated the theme of love. John recorded this directive for all those who would claim to walk with Jesus,
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love … Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
Therefore,let us lay “aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking” as instructed by the Apostle Peter in his first letter, knowing such behavior can weaken our fellowship and hinder our prayers. Rather, let us love each other with sincerity and consistency, so that our identities will be unmistakable – that the world might know for certain we belong to Jesus!