How Do We Know We Are Christian?

Key Texts: 1 John 2:3-6

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.  Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

OK – here I go about to give a clear hint of how old a geezer I am.

When I was growing up and attending church camp, Vacation Bible School, and the like (such activities dating me in their own right) – I happily sang a little song about being “one in the Spirit.”  A key phrase in that song is “they will know we are Christians by our…,” by our what?

They will know we are Christians by our love.

The apostle John didn’t need a church camp song to know all about that.

It was key to what John had to say that we would be known, and we would know ourselves that we are Christian by the simple fact that we are those who love.

Now, love can be defined in all sorts of ways.

It seems Hollywood has one definition, Hallmark Cards another, psychotherapists still another, on and on it goes.

I am reminded though of another scripture that speaks volumes: we love “as we have first been loved.”

John does a wonderful job of describing how we learn about Christian love by experience the amazing, grace-filled love of God via Christ.  Then, having experienced its life changing power, we are to go and “do likewise”.

How do we know we are Christian?  It’s not complicated.  We act as loving people who freely offer grace to others in Christ’s name.

It’s so easy to talk about it, so difficult at times to do.

But it is how we are to be known.

It’s how we live as Jesus did.

And it is more – it is so much more – than a camp song – at any age.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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