I remember learning an old song when I first attended youth group many years ago. The chorus to the song went something like, ‘And they’ll know we are Christian by our love, by our love; Yes they’ll know we are Christian s by our love …’ Christian love is ever so important. Paul teaches much about love in his well-known critique on love in 1 Corinthians 13. He argues that we may be able to speak in the tongues of men and of angels; we may have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge; and we may be have incredible faith that can move mountains, but if we do not have love we are nothing! He goes on to say that yes we must have faith; we must have hope; but above all else we must demonstrate love. Love is supreme above all the gifts, talents and skills we may aspire to have. Without love we are nothing. Sobering when you think about it!
In our text today from 1 Thessalonians we witness love in action from a man who once was filled with hatred. Every time I read this section of Paul’s letter my heart is greatly moved. Who could imagine that a man could be transformed so much? Yet he was and all because of him meeting the risen Lord Jesus. He came face to face with the God of love and was never the same again. He modelled his new Lord to those he met daily. He loved these people whom he had never met before because he understood the depth of love that God displayed to him through Jesus.
If we say we have faith in Jesus then our lives will show it. It will show in how we love others and in particular our Christian brothers and sisters. It will show in how we speak to one another and how we intentionally care for one another. It will show as we try to build others up in genuine caring and tender love as opposed to pulling people down through criticism and gossip. It will show in what we are prepared to do for those we do not know and who are yet to know Jesus. The Thessalonian Christians were known throughout Macedonia, Achaia and indeed the world because of their love. They modelled Paul and Paul modelled Jesus.
Who do we model? Are we known as Christians by our love for one another as well as others here in Kogarah? How do we actively live this love out in our community? Questions each one of us need to ponder as we seek to become who God really intends us to be! People known for our love! Let us not be simply noisy gongs!