What Love Has to Do With It

Author: Francis Schaffer

As February approached, the C.S. Lewis Institutes fellows’ study concentrated on the topic of love and preparing the fellows (yours truly being one) to engage in an urban plunge project. Enter one of our reading assignments: Schaffer’s The Mark of the Christian. This is a very short book (ok, think essay or pamphlet), but it is surprisingly impactful and thought provoking.

In general, we tend to think of love as a warm fuzzy feeling. We like the heights of affection, but often not the patience and work that goes along with true love. In daily life, we rarely love those who irritate us or disagree with us. This is the kind of love – the active, thoughtful, purposeful kind – that Schaeffer wants to talk about. As Christians, we often undermine our own claims of Christ before the world because while we talk to the talk, we don’t walk the walk. We don’t love one another (for example, the endless divisions and different denominations, few of them on speaking terms) send a stark message to the world. We’re just as petty and self-centered as they are – worse so because we claim to be different. We hurt our own message and we do not show the true mark of a Christian – love.

It’s a commonsense argument, one that immediately convicts us. We’ve all done this. Schaeffer then breaks it down into practical applications. First, we love one another. And that’s not a feeling, per say, but a set of actions. Love, compassion, patience. Love is often inconvenient and goes against our self-centered aspects. Love does not necessarily mean acceptance of another’s stance, but it does mean a certain kind of treatment, a certain

Image by Chil Vera from Pixabay

approach, and Schaeffer breaks this down. Love does not equate to weakness or an inability to speak, but it does relate to a certain level of discernment. When is something minor? When should we speak, and if we do speak, how do we approach the person to whom we are speaking with love?

Schaffer then shows how this approach of love needs to be universal. There is a difference between how Christians interact among each other and how we love those in the world, but we are commanded to do both. Schaeffer talks about what this looks like in a practical sense, and shows us how to apply real love, not the mushy Valentine’s Day card stuff, to how we interact with others, both in and outside of the church.

The Mark of the Christian is a short read, but it’s powerful and a great start for thinking about the true meaning and actions of love.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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