The true sign that we have been learning from and following after Jesus is this: that we will love like Jesus loved. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13:35 NIV). In Ephesians, Paul prays “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:17-19). Love and unity among diverse people is not natural to the human race. Fear, distrust, anger and belligerence are common. When we learn of Jesus and from him while following him, we also learn to love like he loved.
One day, while on our first assignment in Venezuela as dorm parents, I was driving a seven-passenger van full of young people back into the town where the school was located. A storm had passed through shortly before and, as I drove down the main street of town, I noticed a tree branch that had blown down, obstructing the sidewalk. I also noticed a blind old man walking down the sidewalk toward the obstructing branch. I stopped, jumped out, helped the man around the branch and returned to the van. Then I forgot completely about the event. But one of the teenagers in the van did not forget.
During and after college while that young man was trying to find his way, that incident helped prevent him from denying Jesus altogether. He had seen love in action. Only a small incident, so small that I had entirely forgot about it until he told me thirty years later. Was I special? No, Jesus had prompted me to stop, get out of the van and follow him over to the blind man. He knew how that seed of love and faith would grow. I did not. I am so grateful that I did not ignore that still small voice prompting me to follow him to love someone I had never met.