Using social media likes as the launching pad, these messages will explore how Christ offers more than what is available in our culture. As we know, simply getting a high number of likes isn’t going to fix real problems. All three messages will be drawn from the book of 3 John.
Background of 3 John
Written by the Apostle John, the book of 3rd John is the shortest book in the Bible. Although it is short, it’s an important letter about how Christians are to relate to one another – especially during troubling times. One of the things that set apart the early Christians was their willingness to show hospitality to people they didn’t know. John uses the examples of two men (Gaius and Diotrephes) as a way of illustrating the right and wrong way to live. It is not enough to simply know the truth; we must also act in a loving way. Finally, the book emphasizes John’s desire to be “face to face” with his readers, rather than having to continue communicating by letter. In our digital age, this is an important reminder about our need for personal connection.
April 11 – Longing for Real Acceptance
Main Point: Jesus calls us to go beyond tolerance to genuine relationships and acceptance.
Most people don’t want to just be tolerated; they want to be cared for. As our culture understands it, tolerance doesn’t necessarily involve any genuine care or concern for the other person – they are to be tolerated. The language John uses towards his friend, Gaius, points to a real relationship: “my dear friend”, “whom I love”, and “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” Gaius even extended his friendship to fellow believers he had just met (“though they are strangers to you”). The foundation for such relationships is the truth of the gospel and our motivation is to act in a way that honors God.
3 John 1-8 … 1 The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.
April 18 – Longing for Real Justice
Main Point: Jesus calls us to go beyond words to actions.
In the next section of verses, John contrasts the values of Gaius with those of Diotrephes. Diotrephes “loves to be first”, spreads “malicious nonsense”, and “refuses to welcome other believers.” More so, he actively tries to inhibit others from behaving in the right way. John’s challenge is clear: do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Biblical justice is action based on truth; it is a matter of imitating what is good. As Christians, there will be times when our response to situations may go against what is actively being encouraged by our culture.
3 John 9-12 … 9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.
April 25 – Longing for Real Connection
Main Point: Jesus calls us to go beyond superficial connection to real friendship.
Throughout this short letter, John’s feelings towards Gaius are obvious – he really loves him. As he closes the letter, he expresses his desire to not have to communicate by pen and ink but hopes to talk face to face. John is expressing a very natural desire, one created within by God: to know and be known, to be connected to others beyond superficial means. Our modern digital culture has allowed to be more connected and disconnected than ever before. The church provides a community in which people can build deep relationships.
3 John 13-15 … 13 I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. 15 Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.