Last night, before I went to bed, I read through Romans 12:9-21. In my bible the heading of that passage is Marks of a true Christian. My very first thought was, “YES! A checklist,” because, well, if I don’t have a list I tend not to get it done. Heck, sometimes when I DO have a list I don’t get things done (right mom?).
As I read through that passage my heart was both joyful and discouraged. I knew that what I was reading was (and still is) good news. It is good news for me, it is good news for my neighbors, and it is good news for my God. But at the same time I was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed because it is a big list to remember. Not wanting my discouragement to grow and overtake my mind just before I fell asleep for the night I decided I would lay down to rest and ask God to use the night to let those words sink in to my heart.
Funny thing happened. When I woke up just a few minutes ago and returned to read the passage again I only made it through one line. I only made it through 1/3 of the very first verse. Do you know what that very first verse says? “Let love be genuine.” We’ll come back to this.
In writing or speaking I’m a big fan of repetition. I believe that either repeating yourself explicitly or simply rewording what you’ve said is a great way to drive home your point. And so, when I’m looking to make a possibly unclear point clear, I will repeat it.
God knows this and understands this about me; because God loves me he uses the things he knows and understands about me to communicate with me. And so, when I read, “Let love be genuine,” I had to stop.
You see, quite literally, just before I opened my bible I had been reading a blog posting by Kurt Willems, entitled I’m done living like a Christian. Kurt writes how he is done doing Christian things like serving the poor, loving his neighbor, loving his wife, and opposing violence. In my opinion, those aren’t good ideas, however, he goes on to explain his reasoning.
He writes and shares an excerpt from Dallas Willard that explain that the things that Jesus has told us to do aren’t moral standards to be followed blindly, but might be better described as illustrations “of what might be expected of a new kind of person.”
Hopefully you see the connections. The Marks of a true Christian are first and foremost that love is genuine. Because if we have been transformed (2 Corinthians 5:17) and our love is genuine, then there is no need for carrying around our Christian “To Do” list. It becomes natural to do what is Christ-like and it becomes unnatural to do what the world wants of us.
So in order to DO Christ-like things naturally, we must simply BE Christ-like. Easy enough right? No. We do this by knowing and understanding God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit like they know and understand us. We must open ourselves up to love them.
“For to be known is to be loved, and to be loved is to be known.”