By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
-John 13:35, NRSV
Wherever you go, preach the Gospel. But only when necessary use words.
-St. Francis of Assisi
It's long been a favorite quote of mine. But it's important to remember that this quote holds us to a much higher expectation of Christian Discipleship, rather than a lower one. It's tempting to think this lets us off the hook for sharing our faith verbally. The temptation is to think, "All I have to do is live the Gospel. People will notice."
And that, brothers and sisters, is the challenge of St. Frank's words. People do indeed notice the Gospel lived out. It's radical, it's different, it gets people's attention. But it doesn't look anything like ordinary living. It looks like the kind of person who comes to mind when people want to point to an example of kindness or generosity or hospitality lived out. It looks like someone who balances their responsibilities so well that they always have time to stop and ask about the joys and struggles in your life or take a phone call or meal. It doesn't have to be all of those things, but a life lived by someone who is known by even one of those exemplary traits is enough to open a door to share the Good News.
This week at youth group, I noticed a boy wandering during the energizers and wanted so much for him to feel included. I whispered to a group of brothers to go ask him to join us. They could easily have shrugged it off or made some token effort. Instead, they went as a group straight to him, asked him to join, and brought him back to the group to participate alongside them. I was really moved. And it challenged me to consider this, a question a pose to us all this week... What have I done this week that would make anyone take notice and say, "what is it that makes them love like that?" Anything? Just once this week? This month?
Not everything we do will be noticed. Not everything should be. But if we aren't living lives so full of love for those in our lives that people know us by our love, perhaps our week could well be spent trying to be a little louder with our actions.
Prayer for Today
Lord, send your Spirit to open my eyes this week to see every opportunity to love, to give me the wisdom to know how to respond in love, the energy and mercy to do it, and the opportunity to share good news with those who yearn for it. Help me to be a witness to your love in my life. Amen.