What would happen if you showed up at an airport without any proof of who you are? No matter how earnest or truthful you were in your insistence that you are you, the TSA officer would not let you through. You need something more substantial to prove your identity.
This is true in life more generally: how do we demonstrate who we are? It’s not enough to have the right answers or espouse intentions of doing nice things someday. Jesus understood this pretty clearly, and told his disciples that the best way to identify ourselves is through the way we love each other. More than an abstraction or something that you can fall in and out of, we actually become love.
This isn’t so bad if you only surround yourself with other kind, good-natured people; however, Jesus tells us that the true litmus test for love isn’t loving people who love you back, but rather the people who are different and downright difficult. God’s desire isn’t that we merely receive his love, but that we dump it out on everybody, all the time—starting with the people we find creepy.
This inevitably involves facing fears. We are good at putting walls or distance between us and difficult others. It’s understandable, but it’s definitely not what Jesus did. Consider how Jesus conducted himself right before his crucifixion: He shared his last meal with a group that would betray, deny, and abandon him to die a gruesome, disgraceful death. Even though he knew what they were about to do, he chose to break bread with them. What a demonstration of vulnerable love!
More than the faith traditions we espouse or the social class or groups with which we identify, we will be remembered for our love.