How do you deal with an irksome guest? How do you show Christian hospitality to one who would abuse it? Is there a Christian self–concern that's as important as an outstretched hand? Can you be true to both yourself and a sneaky supplicant? How do you protect your family from a religious “con man”? What's your responsibility toward a wandering parasite? How do you love a leech?
Life's a great symphony. Often there are notes and chords that jar the senses. All things (even discords) can be made to work in God’s Music. Let’s see in the Second Epistle of John if we can find some of his answers. The style of this personal letter is typical of the day. Names and greetings are first. Elder, or presbyter, suggests at the time of the writing of this letter simply one who is respected as an older leader of the church, probably with apostolic connections. The meaning of elect lady is disputed. From the early church fathers some have regarded her as an individual, but perhaps most have seen this as meaning the church, the community of Christians. Her children would be literal in the first case and spiritual in the other.
In any case, John loves them all. This love is in the truth. For John, truth is what's real. It's the atmosphere of the church’s life. It's abiding reality. Love can flourish only in the ground of truth. If truth abides, then grace, mercy, and peace will be coming. God is the source of them. Note the way John says this: From God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son. This last phrase is found nowhere else in the Bible, and it makes a point. Father and Son are bound together in a grammatic equality that is significant. It's a reminder of the unique place given to Jesus Christ by John in all his books. If any redemptive truth works in any situation, Jesus Christ will be at the heart of it. If there's any foundation for integrity (the reality of truth), Jesus Christ is it.
John is joyous that some of your children [are] following the truth. (Truth is one of the key words in this letter, found five times in some versions. Love is found four times, commandment four times, and walking three times.) By implication, some of the children are not following the truth. John goes on to challenge all to walk in love according to the old and new commandment. When the outward lives of people are not walking in love, John trusts that a call to love will arouse their hearts and motives. What's lacking will be made up. Love will see to it.
A command to love is necessary. A warning from John puts the whole matter into sharp focus. Deceivers have gone out (a particular crisis time in the church?) into the world. Deceivers breed confusion. False teachers divide the flock and scatter the sheep. Division and lovelessness result. What's the nature of the false teaching? These individuals do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. That confession is defective. It's not according to the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. Inadequate interpretations denied the real incarnation of God’s Son Jesus Christ. A false teacher’s superior knowledge would tend to bring the body of Christ, the church, into disarray. Believers would be used, abused, and divided. This is the nature of deception. It makes brittle and callous the relationships within the body.
This precisely is the antichrist. Here's a term that's suggestive. It seems that a body of teaching had grown up around the idea of a person, a man of sin, a mystery of iniquity, that would oppose Christ. John never uses the term false Christ for one who pretends to be the true messiah. Rather, he uses antichrist for one who proposes to do the work of the messiah while at the same time denying the reality of Jesus the Christ of God.
Be warned. Watch out lest you lose what you have from God. Anyone who goes ahead (with speculative theories) and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. Anyone who rests in Christ has both Father and Son. If any one comes is assumed by the Greek as fact. They come officially as teachers and evangelists. They bring fresh interpretations and new insights. Some are mistakenly moving beyond the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some are leaving behind the common faith of the church. They must be ignored and counted as antichrist. They must be refused the gracious greeting of the group. They must be deprived of Christian hospitality. John is bluntly, lovingly firm about it. “Give no one hospitality who no longer abides in, rests in, and trusts himself or herself in Christ’s doctrine. The blessing of the group must not be given to anyone who would use or divide the fellowship.” This is abrupt. It's protection for the fellowship. It's given apostolic authority. “Shut that person out.”
Love for the fellowship can make John the Elder a stern and formidable opponent to the enlightened teacher who would “go beyond” the basic teachings and leave the ground of practical reality behind. But that same elder, John, can turn back to the faithful with loving gentleness. He can lay aside the pen and papyrus with the anticipation of full joy in personal meeting.
War Of Spirits
Someone is "at odds" with someone else in the family. What it boils down to is: a war of spirits. Jesus said; in Matthew 10:34-38. "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
I know it hurts so much when people you love turn against you, but what it comes down to is: if you've taken a stand for Jesus and they know it, and they haven't, the evil one tries to keep them away from you, and from hearing the Word of God. Thats when harsh words, slander, and hurt feelings come in. Satan's mad...and it's a battle. But no matter what happens, you have to give it to Jesus and let God handle it. You have to take up your Cross for Jesus in all things and not let Satan's arrows get to you...by putting on the whole armour of God. Don't let Satan get you down, depressed, hurt, and not knowing which way to turn. If you do then "he has won". Rebuke Satan in Jesus' Name and keep on stepping for Jesus. He'll fill you with that Peace and Joy
you're looking for, if you do.
A Response To "War Of Spirits"
[ from someone on the talk list ]
NOTE: I asked...and received permission to share this response. I came close to not sharing "War Of Spirits", but now, glad I did...=o).
I know a lot of times I've written you notes thanking you for the heart talks. I hope you are encouraged to keep working on them, but this time, I just have to say that this one absolutely lifted me up and blessed me at a time when I really needed it.
My son and daughter-in-law live with me. I need them because of my difficulty with walking and getting around...so, that is a good thing. My son is himself always, but my daughter-in-law is not always nice. I do often feel like an unwanted visitor in my own house. Many things are hidden or placed in locations that are too difficult or impossible for me to reach. (lol...I use a travel mug every morning to carry coffee to work. It is always, I mean...it's always on the top shelf---about a foot out of my reach! Son, simply gets it down for me. She condescends to go to the bother of reaching it for me.) I eat only those things set before me. Fruits and fresh vegetables are kept only for her diets and offered to the kids for snacks. If I do happen to eat something that isn't intended for me, it's mentioned and made clear, that it was planned for something else. I frequently ask for her to purchase fresh veggies or special fruits for me, but even if I send money, it seldom happens. If she doesn't like it, it doesn't get cooked. I try to keep my laundry at a minimum, often washing things by hand and hanging them in my room, because it seems to be an inconvenience for her to have to bother with it once a week. I feel guilty if one of my cats coughs up a hairball. The kids can tear the house up, but there's a sutle attitude of rebuke, if I leave something lying someplace where she doesn't want it. My puppy piddled on the floor yesterday, and the first thing she said to me was, "...If I'd put it out!..." (Yeah, I've only potty trained a dozen puppies in my life...starting long before she was born and the pup had been out three times in as many hours. Puppies piddle, no matter how close you watch them! It's that simple. )
Anyway, this heart talk was really encouraging to me. My daughter-in-law came from an ungodly, but professing background. She claims to be saved and perhaps is doing what she knows, but although I've never been one to wear my feelings on my shoulder, I'm often hurt by her actions and words. A short time ago she was angry because I expressed my convictions against sending little ____ to dances. She took the kids to her father's for several hours. I don't know what was said, but the poor kids didn't talk to me for two days. I did say something to my son about that, and he made it a point to get them to talk to me. I don't know if he spoke to her about it. I've made excuses for her to my daughter (LOL...who would probably "beat her blue" if she knew the few things I've just written!) and even to myself.
But this heartalk put things into perspective for me. It IS a war of spirits, Hers is pretty much one of an "antichrist spirit" and self will. I've not put a name to it before, but I've often wondered why she is the way she is toward me. I mean, I let her move into my house and take over while I continue to pay the bills...Yet she treats me like an interloper.
So, I won't "let Satan get [me] down, depressed, hurt, and not knowing which way to turn." I won't let him win...And I will..."rebuke Satan in Jesus' Name and keep on stepping for Jesus." Sorry I've used you as a sounding board, but Thanks for this one!
NOTE #2: And some of us thought: we were the only ones who
were having to face "Waring Spirits".
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