The Bible mentions one specific way that unsaved (i.e. “non-Christians”) people will be able to tell that we are followers of Christ.
John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The sacrificial love of Christians for each other is supposed to be of such obvious quality that unbelievers will see it and say, “Whoa! There’s something different about them.”
And yet sometimes we as believers do not treat each other with kindness, let alone love. This is unfortunate and it is not Christlike. I am sometimes guilty of this, and sometimes I am a victim of this. I say things to people sometimes without thinking, and then I realize it was unkind later on. And I can think of three specific people in the past five years that I know are born-again believers, and they have treated me with anything but love.
I don’t know why, but for some reason God has given me the kind of personality that most people either enjoy being around me, or dislike me intensely. I guess there’s probably a group that are ambivalent towards me also, but I don’t hear from them.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying we as Christians MUST like one another. That’s not what Jesus said. He said we must LOVE one another. I John 2:9-11 goes so far as to say that if someone says he’s a Christ-follower and yet hates another believer, then he is not saved. There are Christians I don’t get along with, but I do my best to love them. There are Christians I don’t enjoy being around, but I serve them just like the Christians who are my best friends. And that’s the difference.
These believers who have treated me with bitterness, anger, and outright hatred at times are not following Christ in doing so. It is not my place to question their salvation, especially since I believe them to be saved (from all the other evidence I have). It is my place to point out their error in being insulting, unloving, and assuming the worst about a brother in Christ. And after doing so, they continue to insult me. Part of the problem is that it is sometimes difficult to convey tone, intent, and attitude through simple text. The words “I love you”, when said verbally, can be said in such a way as to be romantic, matter of fact, sarcastic, questioning, boredom, begging, and a hundred other messages that aren’t present in the eight letters. The problem lies in someone reading my words and assuming I intend to be arrogant or a “know-it-all.” No matter how humble I tried to be with one of the people I’m thinking of, he assumed I was either being arrogant, condescending, or snotty. I literally could not win with him, or with the other people that catalyzed this post.
And so in the spirit of Romans 14:13 (“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”), I have blocked them on Facebook so that they will no longer be carried away in their bitterness towards me, because they will no longer be able to see my words on Facebook. I pray that they recognize their error and repent, because I don’t believe God wants any of us to continue in anger, self-righteousness, or a root of bitterness, but instead wants us to love one another.
I have done all I can for them. The only thing that remains to me is to continue praying for them. Aside from that, the best thing I can think of is to remove myself from their sight.
Sometimes the loving thing to do is to walk away.