What does it mean to be a Christian?
How are we different from nonbelievers? What distinguishes the people who follow Jesus from those who ignore or neglect him?
We might think the difference is most clearly evident when comparing our Sunday activities. On the first day of the week, Christians gather to study what’s written in the Bible. We seek Scripture’s insights into living moral lives and overcoming temptations. We focus much effort on identifying sins that threaten our faith and corrupt our communities. We see the regular gathering of disciples as vital expressions of encouragement and fellowship among Christians. We highlight the power of such group rituals as singing, praying, preaching, baptism, and taking Communion. All of these are important aspects of Christian discipleship, but what other ones are we missing?
The apostle John instructed,
And this is [God’s] command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us (1 John 3:23-24).
Believing in Jesus as the divine Son of God is best displayed by obeying his command to love all people. Those are the two hallmarks of being a Christian—believing in him and loving one another. The emblems of Communion are reminders of the suffering Jesus embraced at the cross as an expression of his love for all people of every era. He laid down his life to lift up ours. As we eat of the bread and drink from the cup, listen to the challenge that echoes from the cross: Love one another.