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Love Is All You Need: Part 2

by Paddy McCoy

Quickly glancing at the news this morning, I came across two articles with the word “Christian” in them. The first article involved an alleged “Christian” baptism celebration in Seattle, Washington, where the participants in the celebration got so drunk, and were making such a disturbance, that the police were called.

“When officers arrived and tried to break up the fights,” the article said, “the crowd turned on them. A citywide call for help brought in more police and King County deputies to disperse the crowd.”1 Two of the baptism participants were arrested, and five of the officers were assaulted. The second article2 centered on further activity from the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. This “church” of about 60 members is known throughout the United States as a Christian hate group that pickets at funerals of fallen soldiers and even children gunned down in school shootings. They picket because they believe the deaths occurred as part of God’s judgment on a society that has lost its morals. They carry signs that read “God hates you,” “God is your enemy,” and “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

This past week they were in Bozeman, Montana, on the campus of Montana State University, protesting the community’s acceptance of homosexuality and the fact that schools aren’t teaching kids about the coming judgment. I don’t know how this makes you feel, but it makes me weep. I even had a hard time writing the words “Christian” and “hate group” in the same sentence, and yet these were the headlines this morning involving Christianity in the United States.

In their book, UnChristian,3 Gabe Lyons and Dave Kinnaman share the results of a large study conducted in North America to measure the current perception of Christianity among non-Christians between the ages of 16 and 29. When they were asked to define Christianity, their top five responses included:

(1) anti-homosexual
(2) judgmental
(3) hypocritical
(4) too involved in politics
(5) out of touch with reality

And though the bulk of the book focused on “non-Christians,” the authors have done some research that suggests that Christians in the same age group are not far behind their non-Christian peers in their perception of Christianity.
When I typed the words “Why are Christians so” into Google, the first four possible endings that showed up were “arrogant,” “mean to gays,” “judgmental,” and “stubborn.” Where’s the love? Why doesn’t Google associate other words with Christians, such as “caring,” “sacrificial,” or “compassionate”? I’d even settle for “funny.”

Now, it’s important to note that the word “Christian” literally means “Christlike.” So is this what Christ is like? Do these things describe the Person you pray to, sing to, and worship? I hope not.

In what is known as Jesus’ last discourse, John 13-17, Jesus gives some pretty important instructions to His disciples. What makes these instructions so important, besides the fact that they come from Jesus? Well, in context we know that Jesus is heading to the time of His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. He also knows that the disciples are going to be tried and tested by the devil (see Luke 22:31, 32).

In light of this, Jesus tells His disciples what matters most. After all, when you know you’re dying, don’t you want to make sure you say only the most important things? His disciples even say, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. . . . This makes us believe that you came from God” (John 16:29, 30, NIV).4 Jesus probably slapped His head with His hand and said, “Finally!” Nevertheless, the point is clear: these words are crucial.

In the midst of these words Jesus says, “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 13:34, 35, NIV).

Notice what Jesus does not say. He does not say “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples because of your political views” or “because of how much you hate sin” or “because of your opposition to abortion.” No! Jesus says that all people, everywhere, will know you are My followers because of the way you love each other.

This past year I was moved by the actions of the new pope, Francis, during the Passion Week of Easter. In the Catholic tradition, on Thursday during Passion Week, the pope washes the feet of 12 individuals to symbolize how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. Usually the pope stays at his home in the Vatican and washes the feet of 12 priests. But this past year Pope Francis went to a juvenile detention center in Rome and washed the feet of 12 young men and women being detained there. This world-famous figure with countless servants and a palace for a home got down on his hands and knees in a prison and washed the feet of inmates. That is an expression of love in remembrance of our Lord and Savior (see John 13:15), who loved us and died for us while we were still His enemies (see John 15:13; Romans 5:8).

It is my prayer that we can help change the negative perception of Christianity in North America by loving like Jesus. We’re going to have to get down on our hands and knees and serve people who are poor, shunned, or sinful. We’re going to have to be outspoken advocates for a radical kind of love that turns sinners into saints. We’re going to have to love as if our life, as well as the lives of our neighbors, our enemies, our family, and our friends, depended on it.

Oh, Lord, You gave Your life for me. Help me to show my love for You by having the courage to do the same. Amen!

3 Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, UnChristian: What a Generation Really Thinks About Christianity . . . and Why It Matters (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007).
4 Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Padraic “Paddy” McCoy writes from College Place, Washington. He is campus chaplain for Walla Walla University. Check out his blog @


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