Last summer I was struggling with my weed-eater. I had come to the conclusion that the spool which held the string was old and faulty and needed to be replaced. I tore the whole assembly off the handle and ripped open the packaging on the replacement head and started trying to attach it to the trimmer. Sweat was pouring down my face and into my eyes as I tried and tried to align the new spool properly onto the shaft of the trimmer, but it just wouldn’t work. Then it dawned on me. I had the wrong replacement part. I had wasted hours and expended so much energy, only to realize I was trying to attach the wrong thing.
Ever been there? Hopefully not – I trust you’re smarter than I. There’s nothing worse than putting a lot of effort into something and realizing, too late, that it was all for naught.
That’s something John will be warning us about on a spiritual level as we finish out 2 John in our study called Truth or Consequences. We’ll be reading 2nd John 1:7-13.
John spent the first part of his letter encouraging us to live in love – then the last part of his letter seems to get a little harsh. How can we reconcile his defense of the gospel of Jesus and his challenge to be loving? Does loving others require us to abandon a claim to a singular truth? Why or why not?
What does John encourage us to “watch” in v8? What is his emphasis concerning how his warning is applied? How does that help us understand the balance of loving tolerance and holding the truth?
The deceptive doctrines he’s warning about are most likely ancient forms of “Christian Gnosticism” – it’s good to have a grasp of what his context was.
In the ancient world there were no motels or formal travel accommodations. Traveling ministers could only spread their message by relying on the hospitality of local churches. They would be housed, fed and blessed – that is, encouraged. If those systems were removed, the teacher would not be able to continue spreading his views. Given that context, how do we understand what John is telling us about letting false teachers into the home or blessing them?
This study will require some critical thinking on our part as we press some hard questions to the assumptions our present culture has made concerning love, tolerance and truth. Hope to see yez there!