Knowing Christians By Their Love

How often we children have been unwilling, unwilling to listen to each other, unwilling to hear words we do not expect. But on that first Pentecost the Holy Spirit truly called the people together in understanding and forgiveness and utter, wondrous joy. The early Christians, then, were known by how they loved one another. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people could say that of us again? Not an exclusive love, shutting out the rest of the world, but a love so powerful, so brilliant, so aflame that it lights the entire planet — nay the entire universe!

I had such an experience once, in Ayia Napa, Cyprus, when I was with a group of Christians from all over the world and from all denominations. We celebrated Holy Communion together in an upper room, and we sang “We’re one in the Spirit, we’re one in the Lord,” and I knew it to be true. That gathering was an icon of love for me, and icon of Pentecost, and icon of what Christians ought to be, known by our love.

The icon becomes and idol when any one part of the body wants the rest of the body to be just like it. In that upper room we ranged from Seventh-day Adventist all the way through to Roman Catholic, and we rejoiced in our individual ways of proclaiming our faith; at the same time we honoured the ways of the others whose expression of faith was different from ours. The icon did not become idol because no one person or group professed to have the only truth or the only way to affirm that truth. How odd it would be if the body were all hands or knees or teeth!

Madeleine L’Engle, Glimpses of Grace

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