Many churches, in their constitution or statement of faith, have clear policies regarding membership or “being in fellowship.” We speak of other churches “of like faith and practice.” The reality of the checker board of the ‘Christian’ world calls this statement into serious question. Do we really share ‘the same faith’ and ‘practice?’
As John pens 2 John, he describes himself as the elder. He is now a senior leader. In Christ’s design, he has been a foundation layer (Ephesians 2:20) for the universal church. He is not the only leader–the New Testament does teach plurality (a subject for another day), but in the area in which he was serving, probably Ephesus, his was the most seasoned faith.
This short letter is addressed “to the chosen lady and her children,” the local body of believers and those who were committed to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and to each other. They are not only connected locally but also globally to those who know and live in the truth.
The Christian faith, depicted doctrinally, is not a series of ‘suggestions.’ Many denominations affirm that they have an unwavering commitment to ‘the faith,’ yet they are selective in their obedience. A godly senior leader, whose mentoring left a huge imprint in my life, often stated “All that the Bible teaches about a subject is the truth about that subject.”
What did he mean in this affirmation? We must keep reading and rereading scripture and remain teachable and always willing to ‘reform’ our understanding of doctrines and practices. “Semper reformanda” means always reforming. None of us have ‘arrived’ and we have yet much to learn if we are to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” I weary with the arrogance of many I’ve met and detest in myself the arrogance of thinking I can ‘proof text’ my way to winning arguments.
I love the truth, but as John indicates there are MANY others. Let’s drop the ‘Elijah’ mentality – you know the one where that Old Testament senior leader felt he was the only way who remained true to Jehovah. “I only am left,” he protested to God, “and they are seeking my life.” God corrected his perception of reality and noted there were “7,000 who had not bowed their knees” to Baal, the Canaanite deity whose influence wreaked spiritual havoc throughout the pages of Israel’s history.
Be committed to truth, absolutely, but please demonstrate a gracious attitude towards those who aren’t as ‘insightful’ as you are. Perhaps the next time we’re out dining, and the waitress/waiter asks for our order, we should ask for a super-sized portion of HUMILITY. We might actually discover we need it much more than we realize!