Andrew Murray in his book Abide in Christ says this:
The Love that fills heaven and eternity is to be seen here daily in the life of earth and of time.
The life of love is the chief evidence of Christianity, the proof to the world that God sent Christ and that He has shed abroad in them the same love with which he loved Christ. Of all the evidences of Christianity, this is the mightiest and most convincing.
The love to one unseen may so easily be a mere sentiment, or even an imagination; in the interactions withGod’s children to love God is really called into exercise and shows itself in deeds that the Father accepts as done to Himself.
The law of kindness is on the tongue, for love has vowed that never will one unkind word cross its lips. It refuses not only to speak, but even to hear or think evil; it is more jealous of the name and character of the fellow Christian than its own. My own good name I may leave to the Father; my brother’s good name has been entrusted to me by my Father.
Let us try, in all simplicity and honesty, to go out to our homes to translate the language of high faith and heavenly enthusiasm into the plain prose of daily conduct, so that all men can understand it.
Let me begin with a confession. What I long for, written in the words below, I fail often at. What I want to exhort you towards, as expressed below, I also exhort myself towards.
Here are some thoughts on the above passage:
First, our love for the Father is demonstrated in how we love one another. One of my deepest hopes and longings for our Live Dead teams is that there is a genuine, sacrificial love for one another. It is a great delight to enter a city to visit a team and tangibly feel that they love one another. What joy! It is deep sorrow to visit a team and immediately sense tension. We can, of course, only control our own reactions and feelings; some tensions others introduce and we must work through them as best we can (more on this below).
Second, Muslims need to see how we love one another. I told our team in Cairo how one Muslim background believer (MBB) we led to the Lord was tremendously helped on his journey when he observed (without me realizing it) how I treated my family in my home. The love he felt between us was an incredible witness and invitation. He once heard me talking on the phone to my mother and sensed the love and respect I have for her. To my surprise, that had a greater effect on his decision to follow Jesus than the five years of conversation and theological discussions. He felt the love of Christian to Christian and it moved him. Muslims need to see, sense and feel that Christians love one another.
Next, the text emphasized in the quote above is a deep longing of mine. It is also a deep weakness in me and honestly in others around me. God wants us to be more jealous of the name and character of others than our own name and character. Too many times I have maligned the name of others, and too many times others have maligned their peers or leaders to me.
This is one of the harder lessons and commitments of life and leadership. Let me put it in personal terms. I have co-important obligations to those who I lead, those who are peers, and those who I follow. I must represent my director to those I lead and to our teams, and be jealous of his name and character, and I must represent those I lead to the one who leads me and be jealous of their names and characters. I must do this at a cost to myself in both directions. Oh, how hard this is to do fairly and justly and lovingly. Make no mistake. It is costly – for in both directions, I must be loyal. When I am with my director, I must do my best to represent my team leaders well. When I am with my team leaders, I must do my best to represent my leader well. Often I can only be loyal by not pleasing the one I am talking to.
How does this apply to you? When you have a friend or follower who is hurt or has questions, you do not serve him or her by only being sympathetic and throwing a colleague, peer or the individual’s peer under the bus. You must be sympathetic, but you must go beyond sympathy to the defense and reputation of the other person’s name. In the conversation you must represent your leadership; you are not the ally of the grieved, nor the enabler of his or her complaint. Then in a separate conversation with the leader, peer or friend, the same rules apply. You must represent the perspective of the grieved in a fair way to the other and defend their honor and reputation. In that conversation, you must represent the follower to the leader.
In these situations, what can often happen is that we will disappoint both sides. We want to befriend both sides – which is noble – but often the way we go about it serves neither one and it undermines what God wants to do. We must be willing to suffer, so that love, truth and the honor of the other are maintained and grown. When we do this, we become by God’s grace better friends in both directions – for both sides know we are safe, fair, loyal and loving in both directions, even to our own hurt. The most trustworthy men and women are those that learn to defend the name and reputation of others no matter who they talk to.
Finally, I feel this conviction for myself, my team leaders and teams, and all believers. I feel that the Lord is calling us to a higher love for one another. I feel the Lord is calling us to defend the name and reputation and perspective of others, even at cost to ourselves. This is indeed a way we love God and tangibly abide in His love. God will take care of our reputation. Let’s increasingly love one another. God will help us.