Tough Love: Wander Or Remain

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April 27, 2019

2 John 10-13

If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work. I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete. Greetings from the children of your sister, chosen by God.

CONSIDER THIS

I thought Jesus said the church is supposed to love everyone? Aren’t we supposed to welcome all people…“come as you are” and all that? But now here is John saying don’t invite people into your home who believe different than you.

Except that isn’t what he’s saying. 

But first a little background on the kind of church John is writing to: These earliest churches would meet in a person’s home. These were intimate gatherings, usually with a meal, that could fit in a small room. We’re talking just a few people. No announcemnts/turn and greet your neighbor/do we have any visitors with us this morning kind of service. Just a few people meeting to pray and talk about Jesus together. 

There was also a strong cultural practice of welcoming and showing hospitality to strangers and traveling teachers. It was understood that you welcomed them as though they were Christ. And it is these very teachers that John is talking about. Did you catch it? “If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ…”

These are the folks he’s already called decievers: a person who causes someone to believe something that is not true. The ones he said were teaching the incarnation of Jesus wasn’t real. And he’s already called these teachers an atichrist, so there’s no welcoming them as Christ. 

Is this harsh? Sounds like it in our current “live your truth” culture, but we must also remember that the early church followed the Scriptural guidelines for removing people from the congregation for sin, something many of us would bristle at today (see Matthew 18:15-17). 

With a passage like this, there is a difference between welcoming an unbeliever, and welcoming someone who is intentionally leading people to unbelief. John is talking about those who come in to an intimate setting built on the relationship between the Father and the Son and intentionally try to teach somehting else. This is where love is tough because love also protects (see 1 Corinthians 13:7).

The tough love John’s talking about here is to protect us from our faith becoming aimless. Remember in yesterday’s text John wrote: “Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God (v.9a).

And what is the oposite of wandering away? To remain: “But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son(v.9b).

As we saw at the beginning, this is the same word Jesus uses in John 15:4 saying, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” 

This is also a warning for today, because we don’t just suddenly walk away from the faith and abiding in Jesus Christ. “Wandering” is lazy. It takes time. You may not even know you’re getting lost until it’s too late.

So remain in the truth. That is the heart of the message between John and his friends, and between you and me.

THE PRAYER

Jesus, remain in me and I will remain in you. Amen.

THE QUESTION

What warning do you hear today?

For the awakening,
Omar Al-Rikabi

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Omar Rikabi is a United Methodist Pastor serving in North Texas. When not telling stories, Omar likes to watch movies with his wife Jennifer, read books with his three daughters, and work in the kitchen cooking and grilling for family and friends. You follow him on Twitter @omarrikabi or visit his blog omarrikabi.com

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