I’m going to let you in on a little secret, one of my personal rules for editing. I will often run into a statement like the following, and I change it. Can you spot what should change?

As Christians, we are to love others even as God loves them.

Before I show you how I change it, I should point out the statement is correct—but it is incomplete. Here’s my edit.

We are to love others even as God loves them.

The command to love others is not just for Christians. All people are called to obey God—and obedience to God includes loving others. Replace the command to love with any other command found in Scripture, and the same principle applies. All humanity is to live according to God’s commands regarding:

  • Forgiveness
  • Purity
  • Worship of God
  • Trust
  • Righteousness
  • Contentment

We often talk (and write) like the actions, attitudes, and behavior commanded in Scripture are only expected from Christians, but these commands are not limited to Christ-followers. We are all called to full-on obedience. Non-Christians don’t get a pass.

In the church, we readily acknowledge that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Failure to love … or forgive … or find contentment in Christ is a sin whether you are a Christ-follower or not. Yet in the church, we also act as though Christians are called to a higher standard. I beg to differ. God does not have a different or higher standard for Christians than He has for non-Christians. He has one standard—the righteousness life found in Christ. Anything less than that is no standard at all; it’s sin.

Apart from Christ, none of us can live up to that standard. We are sinners without Christ. Period. The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is the Christian recognizes his sinfulness and trusts in Christ for forgiveness and deliverance. The Christian life, then, is one of constant trust in Christ, knowing that the only way we can live by God’s standard is to live in Christ, to live in constant dependence on Him.

“The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me” (John 15:5).

Let me go back to my earlier example. While all of us are called to love others as God loves them, it is the Christian who actually does this. All of humanity is called to this same standard, but the Christian stands out because he actually lives by this standard! That’s why Jesus could say, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

It’s our obedience to Christ’s commands that points to the fact that we are His. “You’ll recognize them by their fruit” (Matt. 7:16).

God has called us all to the same standard. I’m not calling you simply to be a good, moral person. Embrace Christ and embrace the obedient Christ-filled live. And when you do, you point people to Jesus.

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

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