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By This Will All Men Know

By This Will All Men Know
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“A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35

I once traveled with some friends to one of Hong Kong’s remote islands. One of our hostel’s requirements was to leave the premises for part of each day. At a local cafe, we met a chatty middle-aged guy who each day regaled us with a story of his long stay on the island. He pointed up into the hills to his small white structure and offered to lead us up for hiking and sun bathing on the secluded rocks. Each story included some expression of his joy at leaving the corporate world back in the metropolis he had escaped years before. Too was his word of choice. Too many people, too little time for himself, too many rules, and on and on.

Yet, here he was, talking our ears off (and others’ as well) and buying drinks and offering local hiking trips to total strangers.

Just a story of one man with many unknown variables. But I could relate. I like to talk and plan get-togethers. I also can spend days alone reading, writing, and watching mysteries. As our friend on the island discovered, it’s pretty hard to have it both ways. More importantly, as believers we’re not really called to either life. Christian community is much more than party people and introverts co-existing happily together. 

Jesus gives a new commandment in the gospel of John. Love each other as He has loved us. This is how all men will know I am a follower of Jesus. By how I love others? Like he loved me? That’s the measuring stick? Wow.

Living in even the smallest group of ex-pat believers provides a stage for all men to watch and decide. The proximity and need in such communities practically write the script and we are the players. Translators and guides are needed. Introductions and connections to the neighborhood are required. Culture ambiguities are puzzled over together. Some frequently pass on collective moments while others want more. It is messy. Loving others like He loves does not make life easy. It is how all men will know we are his disciples. What do our communities show the world? 

Closing Prayer
Oh God, thank you for all the messiness of community. Thank you for calling us the Body of Christ, where each part in needed. Thank you for giving us each different gifts. Help me to see the importance of each – even the ones I don’t understand or the people who have them. I thank you for opportunities you give us to meet and work with and love people we may never have chosen on our own! Thank you for the wonders you make out of these messy groups of people. Amen.
Article: How Not to Tempt God During a Plague by Martin Luther Letter written by Martin Luther to his congregation during the plague in his life time. Check out the 12th paragraph in light of the current pandemic. Very thought-provoking.
Question for Reflection

Let’s be positive! What one specific joy - big or small - you have found in community in a foreign country?

Barbara Kindschi
November 29, 2022

For me it’s been the joy of several cross-generational friendships. I treasure the friends that are peers with whom I have years of history but my time in Asia has brought several young teammates/colleagues into my life that I wouldn’t trade for anything. The chances of our really connecting in a North American church or job situation are slim, but teaching in Asia brought us together. There are moments when our age differences came close to clashing. But I think on both sides we knew when it was time to separate. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their enthusiasm for trying new things combined with their respect for what they don’t know. I think we have all learned about each other’s age group beyond what any book could ever teach.