Sermon Notes: When Is It Time To Close The Door (2nd and 3rd John)?

Posted: February 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

When Is It Time To Close The Door? 2nd and 3rd John
 

There is a theme tying 1st through 3rd John together, which is truth and love.  On the one hand, John admonishes the churches to love unconditionally but on the other hand he exhorts them to turn the backs on anyone who is keeping the church from fulfilling it’s mission of being an instrument of healing in a broken world.

2nd John tells a woman who probably hosts a house church to love one another but also to refuse to welcome certain former members of the congregation or those who believe as they do (v.11).
 
3rd John commends the ancient near easter practice of radical hospitality while also previewing a coming butt kicking administered by John to Diotrephes, who apparently wants to boss everyone around.
 
So, once again, we hit this balance of love and hospitality vs. separating ourselves from those who would damage the community of faith.  How do you achieve that balance?
 
After all, we worship a Lord who blessed his murderers but also warned that his church would rip families apart!
 
The command to love is easy to understand but difficult to apply but the question of when you turn your back on someone is even more difficult. 
 
What actions count? When is enough enough? 

If it’s a romantic relationship then the conventional wisdom is that if the other cheats on you then you kick them to the curb but is that right? In the book of Hosea, God tells a man to marry a prostitute and to take her home after she cheats on him just to make a point to the nation of Israel.  So, maybe (and I stress maybe) even adultery isn’t an automatic trigger.
 
What do you do if it is a family member? An old friend? 

We treat the latter relationships as sacred but what if there is a toxic transactional thing going on where a parent or sibling is having such a negative effect on you that your ability to serve Jesus is damaged? Isn’t our commitment to Jesus primary?
 
And how often do we pretend that everything is okay within our own families? Within our own churches? How does that fit within the need to be authentic so that we can reach a broken, fallen world? If we are constantly being fake then how are we going to help people know truth?
 
Now, I believe the manner of separating should always be as grace filled as possible but the time may be different for everyone.  
 
The early church at least had solid leadership trained by those who were trained by Jesus and a caring community to rely on but what about us?
 
This is one of the reasons we push for small groups because one of the hard truths of the Bible is that the people around you are to be your true family and to care for you but the truth is…we hardly even know one another.

The Bible teaches that we are to love but it also teaches that our primary allegiance is to Jesus and that if anything or anyone is affecting that relationship and the mission he has given us then it has to go. 

Jesus taught us to try to reconcile with the person hurting us but we all know that not everyone will reconcile.  So, there comes a time when you have to turn your back on someone in the name of Jesus but this takes wisdom and, unfortunately, we don’t have someone like John who hung with Jesus around to consult.  So, in order to be loyal to our king, in order to be healthy missionaries in our culture, in order to avoid being pretenders and be real, then we need to belong to a community of faith and a small group of people who love Jesus and love us.  This community will then help us to have the strength to confront those who hurt us and, hopefully resolve any issues but, if that’s not possible, then they can help us start over.

Grace and peace.

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