This IVP classic is an easy read, brief yet with an urgent message for all Christians today. From the Lord’s words in John 13:33-35, Schaeffer emphasises that the mark of a genuine Christian is love. That is the one badge, indeed the only one, the unbelieving world recognises as the mark of an authentic Christian.
Schaeffer also reminds us of our responsibility to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matthew 19:18–19, 22:36–40) for all people are created in God’s image. Therefore we must love everyone, even at great cost (Luke 10:27–37). The Lord in John 13, however, is commanding Christians to love one another. This must not be reduced to merely liking or tolerating Christians or loving only a few believers. The command is to ‘love one another’, and the standard is Christ himself: ‘as I have loved you...’ (John 13:34). Schaeffer adds, ‘We dare have no lesser standard’. In fact, ‘the church is to be a loving church in a dying culture’.
What may this mean in practice? Schaeffer reminds us that loving means apologising when necessary, guarding our speech and attitudes, forgiving others openly, but also practically expressing kindness and support. There are implications too for church divisions and relationships. Schaeffer has more to say about expressing love towards other Christians before reminding us again from John 13:35: ‘Only with this mark of love may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father’. Here is a huge challenge for ALL Christians today!