July 26, 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 9-10
9 I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. 10 When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.
Several years ago I fully experienced the horror that is “church politics.” I had heard a lot about it, and had even seen it from the outside looking in. But this time I was in the middle of it. Decisions were made in secret, lies were told, and friendships undone in the name of self-preservation. And this was between pastors.
My insides were melted. I cried for days. Then I called my dad and explained to him what was going on. My father had recently retired from a career in petroleum engineering in the Middle East, where he had seen some of the worst of the worst in business politics.
“Well son,” he said, “now you know how the world works.”
“But this is the Church,” I said, “I thought it was supposed to be different.”
“Well son,” he said, “now you know the Church is no different than the world.
I was cut to the quick. My father is not a Christian, and this was the Church’s testimony to him. But he was wrong. It was worse than the world, because these plays for power were dressed up with Bible verses and declarations of “God’s will” and “We’re praying for you.”
Today’s text shows us that church politics has been a problem since the early days. Yesterday we saw the church where John’s friend worshiped had been welcoming strangers. But today we see it appears that one of the more influential members, Diotrephes, was playing church politics. On top of making evil (read: false) accusations, John says:
“Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.”
So here’s my prophetic word to anyone like Diotrephes: Don’t be that guy.
We know virtually nothing about Diotrephes. We don’t know his backstory or his role in the church, but we know enough. We know because John tells us he “loves to be the leader.” My guess is the visiting teachers were threatening his turf.
And if there’s one thing we’ve learned about politics, it’s that when someone loves to be the leader, self-preservation at the expense of others becomes the name of the game.
Don’t be that guy.
Because it’s all the more damaging when the nature of the gospel is self-sacrifice for the sake of others.
We could correct this by saying, “Right, don’t be that guy, because the Church is supposed to be about love.” But what does that mean? Diotrephes was about love… for himself. You can have love in your church and it still be nothing about Jesus.
So what’s our metric for love? It’s found in the most famous wedding Scripture that has nothing to do with a wedding: 1 Corinthians 13. Paul talks about having all the roles and results of church leadership, but without love it is just noise. Then he gives us the definition of love we’re looking for:
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Here’s an exercise to put in your Bible, tape to your mirror, or hang on your fridge: Write down each description of love, then cross out “love is” and insert “am I?” or “do I?” It will look like this:
Am I patient?
Am I kind?
Am I jealous?
Am I boastful?
Am I proud?
Am I rude?
Do I demand my own way?
Am I irritable.?
Do I keep a record of wrongs?
Do I rejoice in injustice?
Do I I rejoice when truth wins?
Do I give up?
Do I lose faith?
Am I always hopeful?
Do I endure through every circumstance?
So take inventory, because the world is watching. This is not a self-serving love. It is a love for others because Christ first loved us and gave his life for us. We call it Holy Love.
Be that guy (or girl).
Heavenly Father, we confess that we often look out for ourselves at the expense of others. By the power of the Holy Spirit, continue to transform your Church—bit by bit—into having the perfect, holy love of your Son Jesus. In his name we pray, amen.
1. Did you do the inventory exercise? There’s fifteen questions there.
For the Daily Text, I’m Omar Al-Rikabi
Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.