Oh the crazy, creative, wild things we’ll do for love. Have you ever been bonkers in love and did something like that for the one you love?
I recently heard the story of a guy who made a necklace for his girlfriend. He carved a small pear shape out of wood, and placed a little seashell in a divot, and then attached it to a chain and gave it to her for their first anniversary. And she wore it faithfully, daily. Then a year later, they were out visiting one of their favorite places, he asked her for the necklace. He broke it in half, got down on one knee, and revealed that inside, all along, was an engagement ring.
She said, “Yes! And then after thinking about it awhile, she said, “Wait…it was in there the whole year? I could have lost it!” So creative and risky, right? That blows my proposal to my wife out of the water. My grandmother had given me a diamond that part of another ring that her grandmother gave her. So I had the diamond made into an engagement ring, but once I got it, I was so anxious to propose, that I did it that night in a misty rain in the gazebo in Greenfield. I was, and am, so in love with Michelle, but I admit I wasn’t all that creative about my proposal.
I learned about another guy who was way more patient and creative. This other guy started writing love letters to the girl he was dating. She would write back. They didn’t live far apart, but the letters would a great way to pour out their hearts to one another, and a wonderful record to keep of their relationship. Well, after three years, and 13 letters, he asked the girl to get all the letters out, and he started arranging them. And this is what she saw.
Can you read it? The first letter of every love note spells out “Will you marry me?” She also said, “Yes.” What is so amazing is that year by year as she was receiving the letters, she didn’t know they were slowly spelling a proposal.
When you’re in love it seems you can’t help it, can’t stop it, you are just flowing with it. The emotion, the energy, the creativity.
All summer we have been reading other people’s mail. Ancient letters. Not love letters. But letters in the Bible. As we’ll see in this next letter, there are other views on love that we need to hear. Thus far we’ve read the letters that Paul wrote to Titus and Philemon.
Today we turn to another writer. John, who was not only a disciple of Jesus, but also possibly Jesus’ first cousin. We’re not talking about John the Baptist, who was another cousin of Jesus. We believe the disciple John wrote the Gospel of John, and then also the epistle of 1 John, and the short letters of 2nd and 3rd John, as well as the book of Revelation. Going by word count, John wrote 20% of the NT, third behind Paul and Luke. John was one of Jesus’ inner three disciples, Peter, James and John. Because of this privilege, they had some unique experiences, such as seeing Jesus’ transfiguration. John was the only disciple who visited Jesus at the foot of the cross, at which time Jesus asked John to care for Jesus’ mother, Mary. John would go on to be a leader in the early church. We believe, of all the original disciples, he passed away last. Most scholars believe that while much of the New Testament was written around the years 50-70 AD, John wrote all of his works in the range of 85-100 AD. Lastly, John is often called the Dr. Seuss of the New Testament because he uses the fewest variety of words and he repeats them often.
As we’ll see, both of his very short letters of 2 and 3 John talk about truth and love, but in 2 John we’re focusing on love and next week when we study 3rd John, we’ll focus on truth. So go ahead, open a Bible to 2nd John, and read it.
In verse 1, the writer begins by identifying himself with the title, “The elder.” We think John was the elder or leader of the churches in Ephesus. As you’ll see, the name John is not mentioned anywhere. Then he mentions who he is writing to, and it is quite curious. The recipient is “the chosen lady and her children.” This could be a real person, but as we’ll see in the content of the letter, it seems that John is using “the chosen lady and her children” as a metaphor. The chosen lady most likely refers to a church, probably the local congregation he is writing to. Throughout scripture the church is often referred to in the feminine, for example when Paul calls the church the bride of Christ. And her children, then, would be the people in the church.
Check back in to the next post, and we’ll see John begin to talk about love.