*Photo credit: Erik Thien via creationswap.com
Here in 2 John we see a follow-up/reminder of John’s exhortations in his previous letter. If you’re anything like me, at this point you’re probably saying “Geez, I get it already! Love one another!” It begs the question, why is it so important to John to repeatedly emphasize this message? The answer comes to us in verses 7 & 8:
“I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.”
Antichrist? *whistles* I don’t know about you but where I come from them’s fightin’ words.
Kind of a strong reaction isn’t it? Except it isn’t. At this time in the church there are certain teachers going from town to town teaching gnostic heresy, saying Jesus wasn’t really God. He was just extra-filled with the Holy Spirit after his baptism. Before he actually died on the cross, the Spirit left him. God didn’t actually suffer or die on the cross.
Obviously this is a problem. With teachings like this it drives a wedge in the church leading to division and strife. Ultimately it rejects the reality of the saving event of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
This is why it is anti-christ. It is against everything he lived and died for. Jesus came in order to teach us the command to love one another and emphasize unity (especially in John’s gospel!). However these teachers are sowing division that leads to hate and conflict.
Hence anti-christ. No capital A. Too often in church and popular theology we like to talk about THE Antichrist with a capital A. But in the process we miss the little antichrists. Those people in our lives that are harming the body of Christ not only with wrong teaching (because that can often be corrected) but a spirit of division and selfishness. When we encounter these people in our churches and in our lives we have to set boundaries in order to protect others and ourselves.
Sometimes this looks like the combative person at church. Maybe you’re thinking of one now. But it also means the relative that refuses to say anything nice but instead constantly tears down others. The “friend” that talks behind everyone’s back (you can be certain they’re talking about you too when you’re not around). Or someone else. Who ever or whatever that spreads conflict, misery, and division is an antichrist. And we have a duty to establish boundaries in order to protect unity, others, and ourselves.
So my prayer for you today is that you might do the hard work of establishing those boundaries in your church, your work, or your personal life. May you have the strength to explain your decision and stand by it. May you grow in God’s peace and shalom.
Grace and peace.