``By this shall all men know that you are my disciples....'' You would think that the words that come next would be some of the most important words that Jesus spoke. After all, these words are to help us identify our Christian brothers and to help the world know who are truly His. So what is the all-important identifier of the Christian? By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you.... keep the Sabbath? abstain from unclean meats? completely understand the Trinity doctrine, and accept it?

This was just before Jesus was to be arrested. He was in great urgency. He wanted to communicate His deepest purpose to those for whom He was about to lay down His life-not just those in the room with Him, but those who would come after them. So how can we be identified as Jesus' disciples? How can we identify other disciples of Christ in the world? ``By this shall all men know that you are my disciples...if you have love one to another." (John 13:35) Straight to the heart of things, very succinct, and in practice, perhaps the most overlooked verse among the words of Jesus!

I love being a part of Grace and Knowledge. We have many gifted contributors who have and will increase our knowledge and understanding of God's Word. But my portion of this magazine has a bit more to do with grace, because practical Christianity is about reflecting Christ in the world for all to see, though they may never see a Bible. If we show love in the world, we reflect Jesus and the Father to the world; and when we accept others who show love in the world, we are accepting Jesus-even when sometimes we have some differences of understanding on basic doctrines.

I have been given the special blessing in the last year or so of coming to know the Mormon community in Oxford. I know them as my brothers and sisters in Christ, though I am not a Mormon because of our serious differences on some basic doctrines. Accepting or rejecting a doctrine is not the same as accepting or rejecting Jesus. I can state firsthand that the Mormon community in Oxford reflects Jesus in this town. They show love, not only for one another, but for those not of their faith, including some who may not now, nor ever be, Christians. They witness Jesus every day-being in their society has helped me to appreciate the words of Jesus more than ever.

We have been through the doctrine wars long enough to know just how essential doctrine is to a particular healthy and thriving Christian community, but I love what Paul said in I Cor. 2:2: ``For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.'' Here is the bottom line to build on, and I have found, as Paul did, that it is a hard thing for people to accept (see I Cor. 1:23). This is the basic knowledge from which all other knowledge must grow, and grace says that the proof of true discipleship is ``if you love one another.'' These are the lines Jesus drew in the sand. If we stand there, we find that our Christian family is huge and diverse-with differing opinions and interpretations of scripture, but still, if they reflect Jesus in the world, our brethren now and forever.


File translated from TE X by T TH , version 2.79.
On 11 Nov 2000, 14:38.