It’s amazing how much time is spent on reviewing previous materials in our education system. Teachers launch into a new school year and discover the gaps in knowledge in their classes that need to be filled in before new lessons may be taught.
We all need reminders. Have you ever known anyone, from a previous generation, who tied a string around her finger? This visible reminder was to trigger the mind to recall some errand, some grocery item, some specific task to be completed. Today’s electronic cornucopia of tools still doesn’t prevent missed appointments, grocery list ‘extras,’ and a host of other things!
As John pens this second epistle, he is engaging in a serious review with those who profess to be followers of Christ. There are times when preachers and teachers don’t need to tackle new territory but review old truths of doctrine and practice which when forgotten lead to serious neglect.
“And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.” (2 John v.5)
John knew the great call of the Old Testament faith – “Love the LORD your God with all your ……” and the second command, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” He had been in the Upper Room with Jesus who at the close of the Last Supper urged “a new command” to be evidenced among his followers.
Now he reviews for the next generation of Christians, the standard which Christ established, namely love one another. The propagation of the gospel (“By this will all men KNOW that you are my disciples IF…..”) is inseparably linked to this demonstrable love.
Christians are skilled at critiquing, judging, discouraging and as a leader said repeatedly, in a conversation yesterday, “deploring” one another. But how are we progressing in the “love” area? If the “fruit of the Spirit is love” then love is not some gushy feeling, but a character change in our hearts, the removal of hatred and the declared permanent commitment to the betterment of each other.
We’ll have our differences. We’ll rightfully ‘test everything’ and hold on to what is good (1 Thess. 5:21). We’ll engage in ‘taking the speck’ carefully out of our brother’s eye, after removing ‘the log’ that is in our own visual apparatus (Matthew 7:1-5). We’ll speak into each others lives and declare ‘truth’ even when it hurts, but throughout these Scripturally-mandated activities we’ll recall the love lavished on us by the Father (1 John 3:1-3) and we’ll ask Him, by His grace, through His Spirit, to produce in us such a self-sacrificing engagement with other believers. If we do all this regularly we won’t need as many sermons reminding us of the imperative of Jesus. We won’t need as many leaders or parents or mentors or friends saying – “I ask that we love one another.”