They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love
“We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit; we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love
By our love
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love”
This past week has been one of tragedy and heartbreak for some of the nation. Hurricane Harvey brought devastation and destruction to parts of Texas. Drought and wildfires have caused evacuations, death, and ruin across much of the Pacific Northwest. Every day, we have neighbors, co-workers, and friends who go through trials and tribulations, whether it be illness, miscarriage, financial hardship, depression, or just the stress of life that never seems to let up or let go.
Camp Wyoming is often defined and described by its community. People love the spaces, activities, and natural beauty that the physical site provides, but is is the people that truly bring meaning and impact to this place. One of our favorite and age-old camp songs, sung countless times around the campfire by hundreds of campers spanning generations, is the song “One in the Spirit.” It’s chorus, written above, is reflective of John 13:35, where Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
As we grieve with those in our nation who are hurt by natural disasters and destruction, as we mourn with our neighbors who suffer the devastation that life sometimes lays in our path, and as we hurt with friends who struggle through tragedy, it can sometimes be hard to know how to respond. How can we bring healing and hope in the face of loss? The reality is that often we cannot fix what has been broken. We cannot bring back a loved one who has died or absolve the hurt from a divorce or restore what a hurricane has stolen. However, as Christians, we can offer love and support. We can wrap friends in our arms and cry with them. We can pray for them and with them. We can bring them a cup of tea and sit in silence, absorbing and empathizing with what they have lost. We can donate money and time, lend a hand to help rebuild, and lift them up when the cannot stand on their own.
It is important that we acknowledge the hurt that exists around us. It is also important that we recognize that we cannot always make it better. However, we can be of comfort. Sometimes it is enough to know that someone is there, that someone is standing beside you as you face the mountain of pain and heartbreak that lies ahead. It is enough to have a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold when the rain that you’ve prayed for does not come. We can love those around us as Jesus loves them. Just as Christ wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, we can weep with those who hurt and offer prayers and petitions when they are too tired to lift their eyes to heaven.
“They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” It is such a powerful message, and one that resonates with the community at Camp Wyoming each time that song is sung in worship. However, it is also significant that those words in the song are followed by a celebration verse of God’s power and awesomeness, a reminder that even in times of despair, our God is big enough to see us through with wisdom, power, and love. As Christians, the best and most wonderful thing we can do is simply love the hurting, carrying them to God in prayer, in community, and in action.