When I was recently asked to do a six-minute radio interview on Francis Schaeffer’s classic The Mark of the Christian, I was reminded what a good book it would be to read this year. With all the political vitriol sure to be spouted incessantly, Christians will be challenged. Will we follow the world’s ways or follow Jesus’ command to his disciples to “love one another” (John 13:34)?
If we frequently listen to radio, TV, podcasts and even sermons that tell us that people who disagree with our political views are ignorant and unbiblical, if not downright in league with the devil, how can we help but think and feel the same?
Schaeffer makes two compelling points from John’s gospel in this book that can be read in just an hour. First, if we don’t show love toward other Christians, then non-Christians have the right to say we aren’t Christians at all. “By this,” Jesus says, “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
And Jesus was right. That is exactly what happens when my neighbors see how much Christians show hatred toward others. “How can they call themselves Christian when they act so unlike Jesus?”
Schaeffer’s second point is perhaps even more dramatic. When Christians show loving harmony and grace toward each other, that is “the final apologetic.” It is proof that the gospel is true. When Christians are “brought to complete unity,” Jesus says, “then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:21). Schaeffer’s timeless book closes with some very practical counsel on how to do just this.
In 2024 reading The Mark of the Christian can set us on the right path. Who’s lead will we follow? The polarizing voices of our political persuasion? Or the voice of Jesus?