Hi everyone, it’s Mick here and welcome to Tuesday’s Podcast at STC. Our reading today is 2 John 1:1-6 and you can hear this passage after the prayer and before our worship song. This week’s theme is ‘Godly Purpose’ – what is the Lords will for my life and more specifically for this week and this day? With this in mind our focus today and tomorrow is ‘truth and love’
v3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
A little reminder of context here and who John is. His father was Zebedee and John, with his brother James were known as the ‘sons of Thunder’ (Mark3) John wrote his gospel fist, the these three letters to small house churches in Asia Minor (Turkey) and finally Revelation, the last book of the bible while in exile on the island of Patmos. He was a young fishermen when he first met and followed Jesus so he knew Jesus, he could personally testify to the incarnation. However by the time of writing these letters was an old man or an ‘elder’ in the church.
Question; why write this short letter at all? 2John was written at the same time as 1 John and 3 John (AD 85/95). His first letter is to encourage the church in their faith and challenge a false teaching called ‘Gnosticism’ from the Greek word ‘gnosis’ which means ‘knowledge’. These false teachers were saying that our salvation and new life didn’t just depend on Jesus, but you needed more, a special knowledge. In this second letter, he says he is sending out his evangelists to counter this false teaching and spread the true message of Jesus to these small church communities in Asia. The term ‘lady’ in this letter is probably code for one of these churches and used in case his letter was intercepted – all very James Bond!
So, he says beware of scallywags who preach a false message and lead you astray – very pertinent today. In my 30 years as a church leader, I have have seen a ‘liberal gospel’ take hold in the church – a watered down gospel which seeks to accommodate everyone, challenge no one for fear of giving offence, and so be a religious irrelevance to the world.
What does letter have to say to us now? John speaks of ‘truth and love’, this is so relevant for our world today. ‘Truth’ is seemingly no longer objective but primarily subjective and is made to fit my personal lifestyle i.e. ‘if my truth is ok for me then that’s all that really matters’. As Christians, we believe that Jesus is ‘the truth’ (John14:6) and his truth is both personal and public i.e. if the gospel is true for me then it is true for you and all people.
‘Love’ is not just a feeling or emotion but a practical reality of service and sacrifice – every day we are to know and speak truth and to live a life of love. Truth means reality not illusion; love means choosing God’s way in all situations. Choosing the way of Jesus often means preferring others before ourselves. That’s why real love is a sacrifice. An axiom (modern proverb/ something to live by) we use as a team at STC is that as Christians we should have ‘tough skins but soft hearts’ – as a follower of Jesus we need to be tough to take the knocks but always have a big heart of compassion.
This also helps us to engage with another axiom we use ‘hard decisions and soft process’. In other words, there are times in our lives when we have to speak truth which means making really tough decisions which affect other people be it at work, family, church etc. However, we then act in love to help those involved to find the best way through that decision and bring a good and Godly outcome. All truth and no love is rigid and hard – all love and no truth is soft and often chaotic. Both are often the way of the world. However John gives another way; truth tempered by love; love strengthened by truth …. this is the way of the Kingdom of God, this is the way of Jesus.
John encourages this Godly better way of ‘truth and love’ (v.3). Listen to the Message Bible translation of v1 ‘I, your pastor, love you in very truth. And I’m not alone – everyone who knows the Truth that has taken up permanent residence in us loves you’ (v.1 MSG). Knowing and experiencing love and truth in the everydayness of life is our aim as followers of Jesus. Remember this today as we take hold of our Godly Purpose – truth tempered by love; love strengthened by truth … the best and only way to live!
Lord Jesus, as I step into this day with the people I will meet and the decisions I will make, help me to remember that as your disciple you given me a hard skin to speak truth but always a soft heart to offer love. Amen
BIBLE READING: 2 John 1-6 (NIV)
To the lady chosen by God and to her children, whom I love in the truth – and not I only, but also all who know the truth – because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us for ever:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.