How will they know we are Christians?

By Ty Salvant

“We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.

And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.

And they’ll know we are Christians

by our love, by our love

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians

by our love.”

Recently, we sang these words to one of my favorite Mass hymns, “They’ll know we are Christians by our Love.” This hymn brings me joy and makes my heart skip a beat, yet it also causes anxiety for me.

Hearing it reminds me just how far off we are, especially this time of the year. If Jesus were a friend on your social media page, would he like most of your posts? During any election, I wonder if anyone would recognize us as Christians.

Usually, I want to unfollow several people, sometimes I do. Maybe not for the reasons you assume. It’s not for their political views, rather the way they express their views. Hate-filled rhetoric attacking our brothers and sisters in Christ are commonplace. Posts, memes and comments become weapons of mass destruction.

Commercials and personal-attack ads seemingly worsen each year. Our Christian values are not present. While one could argue, a Christian didn’t create that ad, it was certainly a Christian who shared it with me. Not only Christians in general, but sometimes Catholics. Not only lay Catholics, but clergy too. My heart breaks a little every time I read a post from our church representatives who choose to share hate-filled propaganda.

A litmus test I use is how my body reacts to a message or the comments. As vile as some posts are, the comments are usually worse and can evoke a visceral reaction. When I feel my heart racing, my breathing deepening and a growing knot in the pit of my stomach, I am reminded how that post does not reflect the new commandment. Likewise, if I see a post that is sarcastic, using hate-filled or hurtful language, if I convince myself that anyone who takes offense to this is being too sensitive or politically correct, I’m not living the new commandment.

Do you ever wonder what it would look like if we acted like the Christians we are, especially during election seasons? While there would continue to be different solutions to problems, there would be no half-truths, no name calling, no lies (even by omission), no rumors and certainly no personal attacks. Rather, there would be a healthy debate of different solutions to existing problems. What if this year, we commit to follow John 13:34-35: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Ty Salvant has recently been appointed chairperson of the new archdiocesan Committee for Racial Equity and Justice.

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