International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday May 3, 2015
Purpose: To unite truth and hospitality
Bible Lesson: 3 John
Key Verse: 3 John (8) Therefore, we ought to help people like this so that we can be coworkers with the truth.
3 John (CEB)
(1) From the elder. To my dear friend Gaius, whom I truly love. (2) Dear friend, I’m praying that all is well with you and that you enjoy good health in the same way that you prosper spiritually. (3) I was overjoyed when the brothers and sisters arrived and spoke highly of your faithfulness to the truth, shown by how you live according to the truth. (4) I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are living according to the truth. (5) Dear friend, you act faithfully in whatever you do for our brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers. (6) They spoke highly of your love in front of the church. You all would do well to provide for their journey in a way that honors God, (7) because they left on their journey for the sake of Jesus Christ without accepting any support from the Gentiles. (8) Therefore, we ought to help people like this so that we can be coworkers with the truth. (9) I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, doesn’t welcome us. (10) Because of this, if I come, I will bring up what he has done—making unjustified and wicked accusations against us. And as if that were not enough, he not only refuses to welcome the brothers and sisters but stops those who want to do so and even throws them out of the church! (11) Dear friend, don’t imitate what is bad but what is good. Whoever practices what is good belongs to God. Whoever practices what is bad has not seen God. (12) Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius, even the truth itself. We also speak highly of him, and you know that what we say is true. (13) I have a lot to say to you, but I don’t want to use pen and ink. (14) I hope to see you soon, and we will speak face-to-face. (15) Peace be with you. Your friends here greet you. Greet our friends there by name.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This lesson fascinates me, because it gives us four different characters, all of which we might find in our local church. The characters are, the elder, Gaius, Demetrius and Diotrephes.
As you read the letter it is easy to get the sense that the writer, John (the elder) and Gaius are close friends. They seem to have a common ally in Demetrius, and a common enemy in Diotrephes. Maybe every church has a Diotrephes, an overbearing, self-righteous, power hungry “wanna be”.
In his letter John is quite vocal about this individual and how he is ruining the witness, outreach and hospitality image of this church. Things that we need to look at within our own congregation. The other sore point with John, was the gossip and untrue statements being made about him personally.
If any of these things are going on within your church, you can be sure it is not of God. John (the elder) writes God’s people do not imitate bad behavior, but rather those that are helpful, hospitable, caring, generous are practicing Godly behavior.
I think one of the biggest tragedies of our present way of doing things is we no longer involve those from our mission fields into our local churches anymore. When was the last time you heard from a missionary worker, or had one stay in your home, or had a missionary over for a meal? That tradition I fear has been lost, and along with it the opportunity to instill within our youth a passion for missions.
In today’s world it seems harder for us to be a co-worker for the sake of the gospel. Oh, we can give to a large fund that supports missionaries and other workers, but we seem to have lost our involvement with the work.
I like knowing those workers for Christ around the world on a personal basis. I know I am old fashion in my thoughts, but the new way of doing things seems almost sterile. Let’s bring back the “International Suppers” and missionary conferences, we should not be bullied by those that want the new, better way, of doing things. However, from the workers point of view, the new way is probably a lot less stressful for them, so I yield to new ways and new traditions.
The question we must answer for ourselves and our churches is: how can we be more supportive to our co-workers, more hospitable to our friends, and more understanding of those we disagree with?
Christ dwelling in each of us is the answer, just as the elder wished. There is no greater joy than seeing those you love live a life of truth. “Yesterday, Today, Forever, Jesus is the same. (All may change but Jesus never) “Glory to His Name.”