August 6, 2014.
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
(3 John 1:2-4)
Quite often today do we view spirituality as a deeply personal thing, and in some regards it should be a deeply personal thing. However, I think we are making a mistake when we come to the notion that religion and spirituality are only personal and should not be shared with others. There is a feeling in our country today that you can do spirituality, perhaps you are even encouraged towards spirituality, as long as you don’t talk about it. As long as you don’t share it with others, sometimes even with others who are spiritual.
When you read through John’s letters, there are a few themes that recur over and over again. Love, antichrist and the joy of learning that people are still walking in the truth. The first one is the one that most people focus on and is perhaps, on a surface reading of John, the most evident. John is often deemed the apostle of love, writing on the subject quite often. What really sticks out to me, however, when reading through his epistle’s is the third theme- finding joy in learning that others walk in the truth.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, he left a job for man to do. It is the mission of Christianity to seek and to save the lost. The apostles and early church leaders took this mission very seriously. It doesn’t take much reading into Paul’s letter to see his zeal and passion for encouraging and correcting young Christians that he has a connection with in the faith. He established a good number of churches, each of which he made sure to follow up with and support in the faith. Paul had vested interests in other Christians, not wanting them to fade away when trials came. John seems to have this same vested interest.
Do we have this interest in other Christians? Or have we been discouraged by our society from checking in with our fellow laborers to make sure they are holding to the faith? Certainly there is a wrong way to go about this, but just because there is a wrong way to handle a situation does not mean you should not handle the situation. Everything we do should be done out of love. John exemplifies this in a wonderful manner, as does Paul. In reading their letters, you can truly get the fact that these two people have a genuine love for the people to whom they are writing, even in their correction. This is what Paul says to the Corinthians:
“For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.”
(2 Corinthians 2:1-4)
I think we have a definition of love that does not line up with the one expressed in the bible, at least not fully. It is true that John writes a lot about love, but who would define love as following commands? I don’t think our society would. But Joh does:
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”
(1 John 5:2-3)
“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one 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, so that you should walk in it.”
(2 John 1:4-6)
We live in a society of “Give me Jesus, but not religion.” This is foreign to biblical teaching. Jesus is religion. Perhaps not the definition of religion that we would think about, but a spiritual way of life. A way that does, contrary to popular belief, follow commandments. But the commands are not there to weight us down. They are not there to make us mad or to take away our fun. They are there for our sake, for our good, one way or another. I don’t think we will even fully understand this until the next life, but I do think we can partially understand it.
So let us love Jesus. Let us keep his commands and walk in his light. And let us help our fellow brothers and sisters walk with Christ alongside us.
Suggested Daily Reading: I John 3-5, II John, III John.
Grace and peace.