They will know us by our ....

Anthropologist Margaret Mead was once asked what would be the first sign of a civilization. Would it be tools? Art? Rituals for religion? Government? All of these things are signposts of civilization. 

Her answer was more specific, something real: a human thigh bone with a healed fracture, dating to 15,000 years old, that was found at an anthropological dig.

What is your reaction to that?  

Mead explained that in order for the person to survive long enough for the injury to heal, the person had to have been cared for, protected, fed and clothed, sheltered. The first indication of civilization was the caring for one another.

John 13: 34-35 says
"34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  

Of course by Jesus' time people were actually civilized, in that they did generally care for one another, but this was by no means a perfect system of caring. It still isn't. Not everyone who is injured is cared for, even today in the most wealthiest and privileged of nations.

No one person can single handedly close all the holes that people fall through. We can't expect those who love Jesus to be a lifeline to every soul. That's God's job! So how are we to take this verse? The insight of Margaret Mead can help provide application to Jesus' words.

 Jesus was speaking to us, his disciples, saying that as far as it is up to us we should love others, and that act will be a signal, a signpost, of belief and dedication to God. We can apply that individually, to our circles, to the areas of influence in which we exist. Then, when we as individuals do the work, then we can work together to create networks of care by the overlapping of our circles, our areas of influence. A civilization is a network of caring for others, that begins with the individual and is measured by the individual even as it is facilitated by the whole.

As civilized as people in Jesus' day was, he still spoke of caring for others, loving others, demonstrated by healing others, and sacrificing for others. Now, we would consider ourselves far more civilized.  We have governments, advanced tools, art, and established organizations and rituals of religion. The changes in civilization would be mind-blowing to Jesus' 12 disciples if they randomly popped in today!  (That would be a hoot wouldn't it!  That's a fun game to play.... what from today would blow the minds of people from different eras? I digress... )  

How's our caring?  Are we equally as advanced in our caring?  If so, does that mean we can just stop advancing our ability to care for others as individuals, as a society? Are Christians leading the way in establishing care for others so much so that we are known by our love? Are we remaining the signpost, the first indication, of holy civilization by the ways we participate in caring for others?

Each one of us must ask ourselves that question, ask God that question, and allow Him to direct us.  If we are known by our love, then let us seek God's guidance reverently in this matter! 


No Comments