I met Mike and some of my North Carolina friends for a day of fishing. Mike is a striper guide and I have been with him many times when he has put everyone on top of a school of these fighters. I’ve also noticed one of his best tactics for finding fish is not mounted to his boat. It’s held in his hand. It’s his phone. When the fish are not biting, he simply picks up the phone and calls another striper guide, and the other guide shares this helpful information with Mike. Many times, there have been three different guides fishing within a few yards of each other. No selfishness. Nothing hidden. Just different guides trying to help each other be better guides, for the benefit of their clients. In all of fishing, this is really unique in how they work together. I wish I had seen this in other areas of my life when I was growing up.
In the church world, I was raised in a time where it seemed we weren’t allowed to help one another. After all, the Methodists are not as good as the Baptists, and the Pentecostals have so much more of God than the Presbyterians. So, we were all told. Surely God cannot bless those who don’t speak in tongues or who believe baptism is essential to salvation, or someone, God forbid, that doesn’t believe in the premillennial return of Christ! And as a result, we kept fishing in the same dry hole, because it was better to fail than to partner with the beer drinking Catholics. And as a result, we all missed out on so much.
One of the most amazing truths that has rocked my world in the past few years is how just hours before Jesus was crucified, (yes, hours) he joined twelve men in an upper room and gave them one final commandment. It was to love people. Jesus said it this way. 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 13) Read that again if you need to. It’s crazy good. He didn’t say people will know we are followers of Christ by our affiliation, but by our affection.
Let me tell you another truth you may not have realized…. God is tenseless. That means God does not refer to or live in the past, present, or future. Everything is now. Everything is present. Everything is happening in real time with God. What a tremendous thought. Let me tell you why. Our world is in a mess today, and the question is, if Jesus were in the upper room today, what would God tell him to tell us? But he IS in the upper room today, and he is telling us the same thing. You see, it would be easy to say God was looking ahead when he told Jesus to give us this one commandment of love. But God was not looking ahead. He was looking around. He was looking around at pandemics and racism. He was looking around at genocide, homicide, and suicide. He was looking around at injustices. He was looking around at the hungry and the homeless and the prisoner. And while he was looking around, he said, Jesus tell them this. “By this everyone will know you are my disciples if you love one another.” So simple, yet so tremendously hard.Why? Because I must love the one I’m standing against. You see, as Jesus looks around today, know that he didn’t come to take sides. He came to make a new side. He didn’t come to stand with a party. He came to make another party. This new party is the party of lovers. The platform is love and those who affiliate with it will be people who are known for love. Because by this one thing, everyone will know we are followers of Jesus. Not by our denomination or our differences, but by that one thing all followers share. Love.