Contributing Writer
Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY

How does the song go?

And they’ll know we are Christians by our bumper stickers, by our bumper stickers…

No, that’s not right.

And they’ll know we are Christians by the crosses on our necks.

That’s not right either.

And they’ll know we are Christians by our Facebook status.

Geez! What is it?

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

YES! That’s it. They’ll know we are Christians by our love.

The words for this song were stolen from the reading assigned to Maundy Thursday. In the reading from the 13th chapter of John, Jesus says,

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jesus instructs his disciples (us) to love one another, which seems to me like a fairly simple and straightforward thing. Why then, I wonder, is it so hard?

I used to think it was because loving others is a hard thing to do, but I’m not so sure that’s it. Love isn’t that difficult. Love is something that comes natural to us. It’s instinctual and subconscious. We love all the time. What makes this commandment (love one another) so difficult is more often than not we’re a pretty unlovable crew. (Cue my wife telling me to speak for myself.)

What makes us unlovable is that we sin… and sin again. We break promises. We compete rather than cooperate. We fight and argue, even in our own families and homes. We routinely participate in injustice and rarely work for peace. We turn a blind eye to the needs of this world and the needs of our neighbor. We squander one minute and hoard the next. We abuse the creation entrusted to us. All of which makes us a fairly unlovable lot.

And yet, the commandment remains: Love one another. So, how do we love the unlovable? To answer that, we need look no further than our Lord. Remember, after all, the love we are called to practice is the love that we have already received. It is the love that comes to us from Jesus who loves without demands and whose love does not require perfection. Jesus’ love is a love that seeks to give, not take – to bless, not be blessed. Jesus’ love was demonstrated not with words, but with action. The disciples were far from perfect – one of them was about to betray him, another was close to denying him, the rest were ready to run – nevertheless, he still ate with them, prayed for them, and even washed their feet.

The apostle Paul reminds us how the depth of Jesus’ love when he writes, “God shows his love for us in this way: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” While we were unlovable, Christ loved the most!

Jesus loved the unlovable and he calls us to do the same. He says it is by this, by loving one another, that the world will know we are His. Sing with me now…

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Love an at times unlovable pastor,

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.