I was reading recently a letter that the Apostle John wrote to one of the churches or to a woman. It is hard to tell which and some say it was a church while others say it was a personal letter to a woman. Let’s take a look at this letter, Second John.
The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth, for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
I am fascinated by the wording in the first sentence, whom I love in truth. We all have our own definition of what love is, what it feels like, what it looks like, and how we respond to it. When I was young I thought that love was an emotion and I would know it when I felt it but that is not what love is. John says love involves truth which makes sense as we continue to study this passage.
Now notice the last part of the sentence, in truth and love. We begin to see that truth and love go hand in hand and are from God the Father and God the Son who give grace, mercy and peace to the chosen. I just love that! To realize that God and Jesus give to you and me three things, grace, mercy, and peace in complete or perfect truth and complete/perfect love. I can’t give you love without the gift being passed on to me from Jesus.
No wonder the people of this world have distorted the real and true meaning of love. It has been twisted to be something it isn’t. From what I see and have experienced in my own life the world’s view of love is what you can do to make me feel good so that I want you around more so that you can make me feel better so that I don’t think of anyone else who might be better at making me feel good! I see this in relationships all the time, you scratch my back and I will scratch your back. We as Christians need to not get God’s definition of love and the world’s counterfeit definition mixed up! Let’s go on and see what else John says.
I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward, 2 John 4-8, (NASB).
The reality of this letter really hit home to me, notice that only some of her children are walking in the truth. I think most parents can relate to this today because not all of our children are walking in the faith. I admire that John encouraged her to not let her heart grow cold but to continue in showing love to people in her life. He didn’t reprimand her for her failures as a Mom (or as a young church), rather he encouraged her to keep on with the love she has had from the beginning. Love is the key to our passing on our faith. Love is to keep our hearts from growing cold when life berates us and tries to beat us down. Love is what keeps us all going in our faith, the love that only God can give.
What a contrast this is to worldly thinking. Today in magazines, books, movies, and television the overriding message is that you deserve the best! So if your marriage is not fun anymore then get a divorce or have an affair. The world says you are the most important person so you make certain that you get what you deserve, which is the best of everything that you desire. No wonder some of our children fall away for a while from the faith because the message is so wonderful sounding…until the truth creeps in and they learn that real love comes from God alone. John says to watch ourselves so what are we to guard against? Read on.
Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds, 2 John 9-11, (NASB).
I love the wording again, Anyone who goes too far. So there is a limit, a boundary, a line in the sand that we are not to cross. I thought about how some cults operate and how they begin the brainwashing by limiting access to the outside world. They have gone too far, wouldn’t you say? Or what about our own desires and how we fall into sin by not keeping our minds clean and our hearts pure, that’s going too far. But the question is far from what or whom? We see the rest of the sentence and we find that answer to our question. If we stray away from the teachings of Christ then we have gone too far and are no longer in fellowship with God. Some false religions talk about God but won’t accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This is what we are to guard our hearts from, those who don’t teach Jesus Christ as God’s Son who came to save the world from their sin.
The world denies Christ but many in the world believe in God, just ask them sometime. We as followers of Christ are to be loving to those who love us and those who don’t. I believe that the love shown to my fellow Christians is most important because some of them have been forsaken by their families just for following Christ. We also have a responsibility to be loving to those who don’t love us because our love may be the only glimpse they will ever have of Jesus Christ and the grace, mercy, and peace He gives to us from God the Father. Will we be vulnerable and possibly hurt if we show Christ’s love to the loveless? You bet! Will we be misunderstood and accused of wrong motives? Probably. Will Gods truth and love confound the world? Always! But we are never-the-less commanded to continue to show love to each other, to our families, to friends, to neighbors, to the world because it is through love that people come to know the Lord Jesus.
Until next time…Katherine