Text: John 13:34-35; also 1 John 4:7-21
Marks of Our Identity: The Church Defined (Sermon Manuscript)
We have lost the art of wondering about love. What I mean is to be in awe of love. What is love nowadays?
This missing out on the awe and wonder is also the same to our church nowadays. At first, when we were still new Christian, we are on fire.
Yet after several years, even your neighbors do not know that you are a Christian. How about your workmates? Do they know what church you belong to?
Last Sunday, I asked you if do we bear the marks of Jesus? Today, we will talk about the distinguishing mark as followers of Christ—specifically, what does it mean to be a church.
In the last verses in John 13, this part is known to be a preparation of Christ’s farewell discourse to His disciples.
The first mark of our identity as a church is having the mark of Christ, the Love Personified.
In our passages, it is evident that the source of our love is Christ. It is Christ who was speaking here; he was talking to His disciples. We cannot truly love unless someone gives us love or truly loves us. Again, we have heard this statement, “you cannot share or give something that you do not have.” In the same manner, how can a person truly love without experiencing love or knowing love?
This identity is connected to our individual identity. Remember last Sunday, that at the very core of our identity and the very covering of our identity are both in Christ. Likewise, as a church—the body of Christ—we are marked by His identity as a loving church because Christ is the love personified.
What does it mean when I say experiencing Christ within the church? That is our second distinguishing mark called Love Covenanted (or Established).
Now that we have understood that it was Christ who gives love and love itself, then the next thing to realize is that this talk was given to His chosen people. Christ was talking to His disciples in a manner where He sees the unfolding of events in the future.
We need to express this love that we have to someone else, in a broader sense, to a community. We are a self-loving being, just as God is, but the difference is that God is love, and we depend on Him as the source of our love. With this truth in our hearts, we realize that “love” as a distinguishing mark of the church is natural and essential.
Hence, just as God made a covenant to His people out of love, we also manifest this love, which was made visible or established. That is why we need to acknowledge our covenantal relationship with each other as a church. Let us read our Church Covenant (2001, updated 2011): (see Church Covenant here )
Christ is the first and greatest mark of our identity as a church; second, Christ being made visible through the Spirit’s work in the church as a covenanted people. Lastly, our final mark, Christ being proclaimed in this loving community. Our third mark is Love Proclaimed.
Back in our passage, the phrase in verse 35, “By this, all people will know…” means that others, the world, our community, your workplaces, or even your family will know that you are a Christian.
By loving one another we proclaim God’s love and we model the true church as a loving church. Indeed, to be a church is to be a loving community.
In summary, as a church, first and foremost, we portray Christ as his body; second, we exemplify this love by loving one another as a covenanted family; finally, we proclaim this love to others by living in and living out as a model of what it means to really love.
The true church bears the distinguishing mark of Christ; this mark of identity is known as LOVE. This love is personified in Christ, made visible through His covenantal relationship with His chosen people—the church, and ought to be proclaimed as a manifestation of being the true church.
For my final words, “Live your life by loving Christ, loving the Church, and your Community.”
Ptr. John Paul Arceno
February 14, 2021
*This section is an excerpt only; download the full manuscript above.