(EDIT: Forgot my proviso. Yeah, this has NOTHING to do with anyone at Layman. Or anything going on right now. I read through the smaller NT letters recently. This one stayed with me)
It’s been jacked from the get.
In 3 John (the third letter of John in the Scriptures), the old man John (70-90 years old), the Disciple/Apostle of Jesus writes to Gaius. And what he writes is shocking. And destroys the myth that oft-luddite, fashionably permanent skeptics have concerning the church of Jesus Christ: It was better back then. It was more pure, more loving, with greater unity and faith.
Not.A.Chance. It’s been jacked from the get.
He starts with wishing Gaius good health and that things go well for him to the degree that his soul is also prospering. It’s a good greeting from a brother in the Lord. It’s not a promise from God that we will always have good health. Verses have contexts. That’s the context of this verse.
Then he talks about supporting people who are missionaries, who go out from to reach people who don’t yet know Jesus. He says, “We ought to support such men, that we may be fellow partakers of the truth.” In other words, when we support them, we have a part in the work they do of seeing people know and follow Jesus.
And then it gets ugly. Because truth is truth. A leader in the church, Diotrephes, loves to put himself first. Ever been in a church like that? Where it’s all about what that Deacon or Elder or Pastor thinks and wants? And NO ONE can disagree with them without facing consequences, shunning, anger, veiled threats? Yeah…that’s ugly, right? It was in the church of Jesus Christ in the first century.
Here’s how bad it is: John is an Apostle. A man who walked with Jesus. Who simply wants to serve Jesus and his church. He writes a letter. And Diotrephes refuses to read it to the church. More…he’s “talking wicked nonsense against us.”
A gossiping, slanderous leader. It’s his way or the highway. Check it out: “He refuses to welcome the brothers (missionaries who ought to be supported), and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.”
Did you catch that? He refuses to welcome missionaries. Maybe because it takes the focus off of him. And anyone who tries to extend a hand of fellowship and love…he throws out of the church.
Let me say it again…it’s been jacked from the get. That’s actually not as surprising as this:
Jesus knew the church would be jacked. In advance, he knew. Because it was full of people. And some are seeking love, truth, unity, faith. And some are self-seeking and just plain, let’s say it, wicked.
Yet he said, “I will build my church…” He died for his church. His “assembly/gathering of believers.” We are “being built together as a dwelling place for God by his Spirit”- Eph. 2:22 We are to “bear with one another in love”- Eph. 4. Bear with? Yeah, cuz it’s not going to be easy. And to reject those would pull a Diotrephes. Who would put themselves first. Divide. Gossip. Threaten and manipulate. “By their fruit, you will know them”- Jesus.
Yeah, the church is jacked. Has been…always. Will be for as long as people are involved. We don’t look at it and act like it’s OK for people to act that way. But we also don’t walk away and say we love Jesus but hate his Bride (the church). Instead, we walk in love and truth. And resist. And run off the wolves who would destroy what God is creating.
But wanting to go back to the early church because it was so pure and holy? Christian, please…