VALLEY PULPIT: A “little letter”

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The “little letters” of the New Testament are easily overlooked, but they have much to teach us. An example would be 2 John, only half a page, tucked away in a corner near the end of the Bible.

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The name of the writer is never mentioned, although tradition indicates that this epistle was written by the apostle John, who is also considered to be the author of the fourth gospel, two other letters and Revelation. . He describes himself simply as “the elder” (presbyter). The one to whom he writes is entitled “the elected lady” and there is mention of her “children”, probably a way of speaking of a congregation, since the Church is often considered as feminine, “the Bride of Christ. “.

John has much appreciated things to say about the lady’s children, the believers he has met and who are faithful. It also includes a warning against the “many deceivers” found in the world, people who deny the truth of the gospel.

At that time, some members of the Church said that Jesus Christ was neither God nor man. They were a type of Gnostic, people who claimed to have higher secret knowledge (their name comes from the Greek word “gnosis,” knowledge – think “diagnosis”.) They believed that God could not come into close contact with the material world. . , which they considered to be totally bad. Therefore, God will never enter human life. There could be no Incarnation, the Word becoming flesh.

John saw this as a serious departure from the original gospel which asserted that God had indeed come to us in Christ to be our Savior. Without the Incarnation, there would be no saving death on the Cross.

The apostles argued that anyone who denied this essential truth was a “deceiver” and “the antichrist”. Such people might think that they were “progressive” in going “ahead” and not remaining “in the teaching of Christ”, but in fact they were abandoning the Christian faith. These people do not have God (verse 9) and Christians should not encourage them in any way.

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It is clear that for the first Christians, Christianity was not primarily a life; it was a message about something that had happened in space and time.

At the same time, behavior matters. John is also passionate about the truth of the gospel and our Lord’s command that “we love one another”. In one of those circular statements that this apostle often uses, the commandment is to love and love is defined as walking “according to his commandments.”

Love means caring for others (in this letter it is mainly other believers who are in mind) with deep, generous, even sacrificial love. When the love of Christ dwells in us, we relate to others in a way that reflects the supreme gift of self of the Son of God. We imitate this “love for those without love manifested”, this kindness freely manifested towards the unworthy.

Love is often seen today as the acceptance and affirmation of all beliefs and behaviors. It means tolerance for everything. However, that’s not how John sees it. For him, love is quite compatible with rejecting certain teachings as false. In fact, if they are harmful, it would not be love to accept them.

The Church is called to walk a sharp edge between correct doctrine and Christian love. Some Christians talk a lot about doctrine but show little love; others are big on love but downplay doctrine. Evangelicals have often failed to communicate that we care about those with whom we disagree. Sometimes men and women have felt that we hate both the sin and the sinner.

Christians will likely always be misunderstood and rejected despite our best efforts to combine apostolic truth and love. But by the grace of God, let’s keep trying.

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