Monday, February 22, 2010

"The Mark of the Christian" by Francis Schaeffer

Spoiler alert = the mark of the Christian is love.

This simple book is an argument for Christians to adorn themselves with love. Not just for outsiders; but for each other. Not just for each other, but for outsiders (those who don't know God) too. He claims that this balanced love-giving is not automatic; and takes discipline to maintain.

Our love, as Christians, is supposed to show the world something about God. And our love should be according to, or similar to, the love Christ has for us. "According to the Scripture and the teaching of Christ, the love that is shown is to be exceedingly strong. It is not just something you mention in words once in a while." (p.21)

Visible love includes apologizing and giving forgiveness. Also, we must have a deep unity according to John 17 - not merely a shallow organizational unity.

He gets into church discipline and true disagreement; but maintains that this is not unloving - quite the opposite! it is not true love to merely tolerate each other and watch as we each destroy ourselves.

Schaeffer rebukes churches for acting snobby and rejecting toward fellow believing churches - a rebuke that is good for Xenos people to hear. He mentions that the non-Christian world doesn't understand all of the little theological differences, and that we would have a better witness to them if we could focus on the good things in other churches that can be agreed upon. As Believers, we don't need to rely on fakery or shallow love - we literally do have a unifying factor between ourselves and other Christians = God's Spirit. So, when we preserve the unity He gives us, we are allowing His Spirit to show something to the world about God.

He concludes: "In short, we are to practice and exhibit the holiness of God and the love of God, for without this we grieve the Holy Spirit. Love - and the unity it attests to - is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians (Jn.13:34-35) and that Jesus was sent by the Father (Jn.17)."

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