“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Some time ago there was a fad which asked the question, “If you were arrested for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?” The question was confusing because of the legal implication. It led to thinking about physical evidence whereas the evidence for being a Christian is intangible. Jesus said his disciples would be known for their love.
We would prefer more demonstrative evidence. In the early church, they sometimes became distracted with Sabbath-keeping, circumcision and dietary laws because these could provide concrete evidence of whether someone was a Christian. In the same way, we can become distracted with external activities but this isn’t the evidence that Jesus is looking for in his disciples.
John Ortberg in his book, The Life You’re Always Wanted, comments that for him to be a loving person requires an enormous amount of energy. He realised that if he was serious about becoming a more loving person, he was going to have to get more sleep! We may think the only way to mature as a Christian is to read the Bible and pray, but sometimes it’s necessary to do practical things, like get enough rest.
It’s tempting to measure spiritual maturity in concrete terms. How much Bible knowledge someone has, how well they pray, but that isn’t how God measures maturity. The acid test is how loving are we? Paul tells Timothy, “The goal of our instruction is love” (I Timothy 1:5). The aim of any spiritual discipline isn’t that we get on A+ for theology. The aim is that we become more loving.