Wednesday, July 24, 2013

3 John Recap

We've spent the last couple months working through 1st, 2nd and 3rd John at River Stone.  They are not lengthy books, but they are rich with practical teaching.  John repeats himself over and over again over issues of Love, Light, and Life. Billy finished off the series a few Sundays ago, but I keep thinking about some of the things he said.  So, I thought I would recap/paraphrase...

What you say doesn't always matter...

Grandpa John called out two different people in the church. He first noticed a member of the church who disagreed with the direction of the church and was making accusations of the church leadership.  He then recognized someone else in the church who was building people up and being a blessing.  Billy did a great job talking about the importance of discernment in the context of community.  John's Gospel says that fruit is the evidence of the Spirit's work in a person.  Just because someone says they're an authority, spiritual or makes an accusation doesn't mean they're right. There will always be people in the church who create division, and there will be people who encourage and build up the church by being a blessing.  It is important to identify which is which and both confront the issues of division and encourage the issues of blessings. There will be both kinds of people in every church.

Self-centeredness prevents submission...
The issue of submission is very counter-cultural for Americans. There always seems to be a strong, "You can't tell us what to do" mentality among us.  We are always hearing about our rights and freedoms.  The interesting thing is that when we enter into the Kingdom of God, we forfeit our rights.  Our opinion is no longer authoritative in our lives because we have chosen to submit to the truth and belief in God.  The man accusing the leaders of the church in 3 John was identified as putting himself first.  Individual preference, feeling, or opinion is not the same as Gospel Truth.  It is important that we don't let those preferences, feelings or opinions carry the same weight as God's Word. Just because we have a thought about something doesn't mean it's biblically accurate.  Not every feeling is from the Spirit.  Putting self first will lead to rejecting the authority of church leaders.  Rejecting the authority of church leaders is rejecting a very important principle of the Kingdom of God. This was the root issue of the man identified as divisive.

On the prowl...
I had never thought about Peter's referral to Satan as being an imitator of an image of God.  Jesus is called the true Lion of the tribe of Judah.  In Satan's prowling, he makes himself look like something that should be worshiped.  I think the aforementioned preferences, opinions and criticisms are some of those things. The only thing worthy of worship is our Savior.  Worship always glorifies God and edifies the church.  If it doesn't do both of those things, it isn't worship.  If it isn't God-worship it is self-worship. We have to constantly evaluate our worship by how it glorifies God and edifies the church.

I am amazed at how practical these lessons from 3 John are.  One of Billy's main thoughts was that experience makes us better prepared and equipped to operate in discernment.  As we see this more and more in the church, we are more and more responsible to respond appropriately to the two types of people mentioned in this short book.

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