When Jesus Loves You, But I Don’t Have To

July 27, 2017

Hello Friends. Omar has done such a fine job and it has helped me so much I am going to extend his assignment one more week. He will cover 3 John this week. I will be back July 31 to begin Philippians which will take us through September. Following that we will move into Colossians for October and November. It’s going to be rich, so stay tuned. And thanks for the time off. ;0)

3 John 11-12

11 Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.

12 Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius, as does the truth itself. We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth.

CONSIDER THIS

“The problem with community is people,” my friend said right after we’d listened to a sermon on the importance of being in a church community.

And that’s what John is addressing in this tiny, private letter to his friend: Division in the community. Yesterday we met the one causing problems in this church, Diotrephes. John essentially tells his friend, “Don’t be that guy:”

“Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good.”

Then he introduces the one who is the opposite end of the spectrum, Demetrius. He’s the example to follow because, “Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius, as does the truth itself.”

So what is the truth that speaks and the good we can follow? This is a private letter, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that John’s friend would be familiar with John’s other writings and teachings. We have them, and I’m looking at 1 John 2:4

“If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.”

What is the commandment? 1 John 2:7

“Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before.”

But there’s a caveat. 1 John 2:9

“If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.”

He’s describing the difference between Diotrephes and Demetrius. He’s describing the difference between me and someone else in my church; between you and someone else in your church. If we’re honest, in some cases we’re Diotrephes, and in some we’re Demetrius… and sometimes we’re both at the same time.

There’s a reason a big chunk of the New Testament deals with the issues and sins that come between us. Because the biggest problem with community is the posture, “Jesus loves you, I don’t have to.”

Tomorrow we’ll see the biggest beauty with community, but until then I’ll let the late Thomas Merton have the final word:

“As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones.”

THE PRAYER

Jesus, I confess sometimes my posture is, “Jesus loves you, I don’t have to.” Forgive me, and free me to love others as you love me. This means you love me while I’m still a sinner, so I really need your help on this one. In your name, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

1. What is it you love about your community?

2. What is it you hate about your community?

3. Where is Holy Love resetting your community’s broken bones?

For the Daily Text, I’m Omar Al-Rikabi

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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