TODAY’S READING: 2 & 3 John
Missions is centered in a robust Christology. John wrote his second epistle to a lady leading a house church, likely in Asia Minor, and his third to Gaius, most probably a member or leader in another church in Asia Minor. To the lady, John bluntly said that those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ do not have God the Father. In fact, he said that anyone who claims to be of the faith yet considers Christ as anything but fully God and fully man is to be shunned, not even greeted. There is no place in Christian mission for the cloaking, diluting, veiling, softening, hiding, or mis-translating the deity of Jesus. In fact, John simply said that anyone who undermines the deity of Jesus or collaborates with those who do is evil. If we get one thing right in mission, if there is one message we cannot afford to corrupt, it is the proclamation of the deity of Jesus, the preaching that God became flesh and dwelt among us, died for our sin, and was resurrected from the dead.
John had no greater joy than knowing his children walk in this truth. Understanding John’s high Christology and missionary example, we can be sure that walking in truth for John centered on loving the Lord Jesus and loving to make Him known. Evidently, Diotrephes had taken over the church and turned it from being a Christ- and mission-centered church into one centered on himself. Diotrephes stopped the church from supporting itinerant missionaries seemingly because he wanted God’s glory for himself and God’s gold for his followers.
Is it any different in our churches today? Do the leaders of our churches lead the body in such a way as to enshrine themselves as head, with Christ reduced to figurehead? Do the leaders in our churches spend more money on buildings and salaries or on speeding the gospel to the ends of the earth? It’s easy to ask the question of others, but we must all stand in front of the mirror and ask it of ourselves: Do I live that I might be preeminent or is Jesus really my glory and the obvious Sovereign of my life? Do I spend more on myself than I spend on the gospel going to the nations? Do I give myself the portion and pompously fling some crumbs toward the starving unreached? Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but imitate our good God who gave at great cost that all peoples of earth might repent.
As a missionary, I keenly feel the deceptive pull at my heart for preeminence. There is an ugly, twisted evil in me that wants to be known for making Christ known. Because we missionaries are so enthusiastically and sincerely affirmed, we are in the most danger of delusion, and the same is likely true for pastors and ministers. We who live by the gospel should be conscientiously careful that we live truly for the gospel. We who live on the generous sacrifice of hardworking saints must be the most sacrificially generous of all. Missionaries of all people should support other missionaries around the world. Missionaries of all people should recoil with the most horror when anyone but Jesus is praised.