In the previous post, John warned the Christians in the church about deceivers in their midst. But who was he talking about? Open a Bible or read online in 2nd John verses 10-11 to see how John describes them. Some scholars believe that he is talking about itinerant teachers who believed false doctrine. There were many traveling preachers in that day. It could be that John is only prohibiting people from investing in the work of those who were heretics, but John would have been okay with Christians in the church conversing with the false teachers and trying to win them over to faithfulness. It is hard to know how much John covers through the words “do not take him into your house and welcome him.”
What we see for certain is a healthy caution, a guardedness, a yellow alert of sorts. In his epistle in 1 John 4:1, he talks about this as well when he says “test the spirits”. Testing the spirits means that we ask the question of them: are they teaching true doctrine about Jesus? Just like the false traveling preachers, we have people in our day and age who have all kinds of views about God. While we have a caution and do the work of “testing the spirits,” we don’t have to overreact in fear. Instead we choose to love them. Loving them doesn’t mean buying in to what they are teaching. In fact loving them means we treat them how God would want us treat them, and if their teaching is false, that means seeking to help them see the truth.
John then concludes his letter in verses 12-13 with some greetings, mentioning that he looks forward to visiting with them.
So what have seen in this letter called 2nd John? John teaches the principle of walking in love, which we is not by feelings or emotions, but by obeying God no matter how it affects you.
God calls us to obey him out of love. He doesn’t want force us to obey him like a drill sergeant does. Instead he wants us to choose to love him. Risky of God, isn’t it? And yet wonderful because he wants us to have real relationship with him!
Christians, therefore, consider how they are walking in love.
It could be a spouse that gives their life to many years of caring for a debilitated spouse.
Or a couple that is dating and one partner develops cancer and rather than break-up, the other partner sticks with them, gets engaged and married, even knowing they might only have months or a couple years together married.
It is a movement from selfishness to selflessness that is very similar to dating. Dating starts with “what do I like,” “what is attractive to me” and moves to “how will I give care to the other?” This same attitude can and should happen among people in a church family. Christians should be that loving community with one another.
I’m convinced that this is what Christians need to focus on in our post-Christian world. We need to be known as the most loving people around, first and foremost to each other.
That means getting to know new people. Investing quality time in them.
It means looking for people every single Sunday morning in a church’s gathering who might seem disconnected or new and reaching out to them.
It means pushing past your own insecurities or weaknesses and connecting with people.
It means sharing your resources with those in need.
It means a willingness to be inconvenienced for them.
And it is rooted in Jesus, who is the embodiment of love. Start there, with Jesus, whose Spirit lives in you, who loves you, and get to know his love, and then show your love for him by obeying his commands, one of which is to love those around you, even those who are difficult to love.
Walk in love.