In my very short life as a Christian, I have seen a lack of love prevail often within the body of Christ. Ashamedly, I confess I have sometimes been part of those moments. Yet, to declare ourselves Christians is to declare ourselves to be like Christ, after all the word’s significance is ‘little Christ.’ To be like Christ is to be like Him in displaying the love of God as well. Unfortunately the mark of love is often exchanged for the mark of pride in our relationships with believers and unbelievers. With that in mind, Francis Schaeffer has written The Mark of A Christian for our consideration.
Schaeffer’s entire writing is based on John 13 to support the premise that the mark of a Christian is love, and he expounds upon it from there. topic. While there are many individual parts to continually point readers back to the premise, the writing is summarized with three defining points:
- All men have value and are worthy to be loved with the quality and quantity of Christ’s love.
- True Christians are called to love one another in a deeper, more special way.
- Love is demonstrative to the world of God, and therefore it must be visible to others showcasing both God’s love and God’s holiness.
In reading the book, you will find the author’s outline to be more in-depth and more subjective, but each point will fit nicely into one of these three categories. With each word, the author directs the readers attention towards the explanation of the premise, and he does a great job at making his points clear.
There are a broad range of interpretations and delineations of what it means to love, and with that in mind readers will appreciate Shaeffer’s ability to address some key issues that are present in discussions today:
- Value of Human Life: The author begins by placing a high value on human life. He does so with one conviction . . . all are created in the image of God. It is a doctrine that should influence much more of how we live than we realize. Here, it influences how we value a human life, which ultimately impacts our love towards others.
- Value of God’s Holiness: While love is important, Shaeffer is quick to point out that true love will not compromise the holiness of God. In fact, the two go hand in hand.
- Value of Apologetics: Francis Schaeffer is known as an apologist, that is he was skilled in giving defense for the Christian faith and the existence of God. It is here that Schaeffer asserts love to be the ultimate apologetic. If Christian love is not seen by others, how can they be certain that what we speak of is true?
The author does very well at bringing these together to address the great need for love in the church today to address the culture of today. However, he is careful to not compromise God for the sake of the culture.
While the book is of great value, it does not mean that we are left without any concerns or questions. From the confines of the book, one will be confronted with two pronouncements. The first is that Schaeffer says that it is possible for a person to be a Christian without showing the mark of love (location 40, Amazon Kindle E-book). I confess I am uncertain as to whether or not the author is suggesting one can live a lifestyle that lacks love, or if he is referring to the possibility of passing moments where love is not rightly activated in our lives. Love should generally pour out of a believers in such a way that it displays God’s work in our lives (cf. 1 John 3 & 4) but certainly we all fall short and have moments when we do not act as we should.
The second confrontation that readers will be faced with is the author’s pronouncement that believers are called to judge the salvation of others for the sake of being able to love fellow believers in a special way (Location 96). Logically, Schaeffer’s point makes sense and it is certain that in the form of accountability it is necessary to judge the fruit of one’s life. As I minister to others, I have found it necessary to to look upon them to judge the status of a person’s spiritual life in order to share God’s truth for spiritual growth. However, I have always tried to stop short of determining the status of their salvation. Thus, we are forced to ask ourselves, “Is Schaeffer right with this notion?” It is not a question I am going to answer for you, but one that I think is important to bring to reader’s attention.
Overall, the value of the book is not missed. Love is indeed a mark of a Christian. I am of the mindset that there are other books out there that address this topic more completely and more convictingly. However, the brevity of the book (62 pages and about an hour of reading time) combined with some precious truths that others don’t often assert in their own writings means that any time spent reading the book is not wasted time.
Want to read Francis Schaeffer’s The Mark of a Christian? You can purchase it by clicking the links below: