How is this, ‘Okay?’

“Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.”

3 John 11
Part 1

John writes from his imprisonment a letter to a local group of believers that he does not pastor. In that letter, he calls out a man of preeminence who does not accept John’s writings or appreciate his company. This message is preserved for us as the Third Epistle of John.

Short not Sweet

Diotrepehes is proof that a local church of saved believers can have schisms without affecting salvation. Though the local assembly is divided, the body of Christ remains intact. The idea that your local church (or mine) IS the body of Christ is a play on words that borders on lunacy. When you go on vacation and visit another church, you are not amputated and then reattached to ‘the body.’ Unless Paul was wrong, and Ephesians was uninspired, this truth still stands:

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16

The schism that Diotrephes created in his local assembly is not ‘okay.’ Even though it did not affect their salvation, it damaged their fellowship. John promised not to forget that if he saw him again (3 John 10).

Not only did it damage their fellowship, it damaged their testimony. Whereas Demetrius had a good report of all men, Diotrephes made a stink. He spoke out against John loudly, and the Christians who were cast out testified of his poor character.

None of this was ‘okay.’ John felt that something had to be done about it. The Holy Spirit used this setting to frame this short book of the Bible. But as divisive as a church-split can be, it is not nearly as sharp as what John said about it.

John told those Christians to get out of that group. He told them to leave that church.

It’s somewhat easier now for us to agree with John, because what John said is Scripture. The weight and authority of these 14 verses cannot be understated. They are God’s words, not John’s. Though we have this benefit now, may I boldly ask: how many letters were written between believers at this time? Would you guess hundreds, perhaps thousands? Of them all, God only chose a handful for His Book. The rest were uninspired communication that were buried by the sands of time.

Added to that, John wrote to a church that he was not the pastor, criticized a prominent member, and commanded the folks to get out from his influence. How is writing a bomb like that ‘OKAY?’

It’s not over the top; it’s the truth.

You see it all the time. A recovering fundamentalist posts on Facebook. A prodigal son or daughter blames their mistakes on their parents. An apostate pastor writes an apology for preaching righteousness so he can excuse his new choice of lifestyle. An ‘investigative journalist’ publishes an ‘expose’ of the ‘cultish system’ he or she escaped from.

Yawn. Old news. Wake me up when it’s over.

We think we know what to ignore when it pops up on our phone, shows up in our email, or arrives in our mailbox. We’ve watched so many people vent their anger in print, its taken the place of a daily comic strip. We chuckle and go on.

But to the writer, what they said is gospel. Even when masked by an AP-styled objectivity, the bias of an author bleeds through onto the printed or virtual page. That audacious statement? It was meant to shake you. That outrageous claim? It was meant to challenge your beliefs. The intense drama they relate? It’s purposed to activate your emotions and cause you to think along with them. Whether it’s a tweet or a thesis, the writer is behind every word.

Should you think their writing is important just because THEY think it is? Is persuasion the only skill that an author needs to possess?

If so, should you disregard an article simply because it’s not colorful or entertaining? Shouldn’t the truth count for something?

The difference between these nuances of secular writing and what John said is infinite. As Jeremiah stated: “What is the chaff to the wheat?” (Jeremiah 23:28) God’s word is God’s word, not the penman who transcribed it. If GOD told you to leave a church, or criticized your pastor, or threatened to kick you out for being proud; no two ways about it: the Author backs every Word!

So, what part does writing have in the spiritual growth of the believer? How much influence should it hold over your life?

Before we can answer this question, you need to read 3 John. It is the ‘case study’ from which we will draw all conclusions.

Continue reading on the next Reload: Scripture for Blogging

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