Updated: Jul 9
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:11-12
If you grew up going to church camp, you might remember singing, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, by our love. Yes, they will know we are Christians by our love.”
I loved everything about church camp! Even though I couldn’t carry a tune to save my life, I belted out all the catchy songs. I made every craft with two “left hands,” and I played all the silly games with a huge smile on my face. But most of all, I loved how the camp counselors played pranks on all the campers. Like the time I climbed into my sleeping bag to discover it was full of plastic spiders.
Those silly camp pranks always reminded me of my grandfather, who I named Papa. My mom and I lived with him and my Mama when I was a child, while my dad was in Vietnam. My Papa will always be remembered for the hilarious practical jokes he played everywhere he went, at work, at home, even in church.
Often, Papa made me a part of his pranks. I remember how he’d try to convince his friends that I was the smartest 5 year old kid on the planet. He would ask me high school level multiple choice questions, and I would repeat whatever he said after the letter C, just like he’d trained me.
So if the question was, “Laura, who was the fourth president of the United States? A. Lincoln B. Washington C. Madison or D. Jefferson” I’d confidently shout, “Madison, Papa!” It worked every time.
I can now look back and see how profoundly Papa influenced the paths I’ve been on.
He was a teacher, a coach, a speaker, and a leader with a huge heart. Me too. He loved his family, his friends, and his church. He served them daily. Yes, he set the bar high, but I strive to walk in his ways every day.
One thing I’ll never forget about Papa is how he loved Jesus like a best friend. When he introduced me to Jesus as a little girl, I imagined Jesus would show up one night for dinner. Papa made Jesus real and believable to me. His profound love for a Savior he couldn’t touch, is a gift I hope to give others.
Can you look back and see the handprints on your life of someone who loved you? Did this person change the course of your faith journey or set your feet on a purposeful path?
As you reflect on the love you’ve received, think of all the ways you can love like Jesus loved. He touched the “untouchable” when He reached out to heal a man diseased with leprosy. He also loved the “unlovable” when He talked to an adulterous woman, a mourning widow, and a despised tax collector.
How can Jesus’ love prompt you to love like Him? Can you bring a meal to a sick family member? Offer a ride to a neighbor? Or spend time with a lonely friend? God calls us to love one another. And when we do, that silly camp song becomes true. Yes, they will know we are Christians by our love.
3 O’CLOCK CIRCLES
Here are 3 questions you can discuss with someone or in a circle with several others.
1. Who loved you when you were a child? How did this love influence how you love others today?
2. Brainstorm a list of people in your life who need your love. Pick one to love well this week.
3. 1 John 4:12 says God’s love is made complete in us when we love others. “Complete” means that God’s Word comes alive through our actions. Think of the one person you chose to love. How will you put your love into action?
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