*Graphic credit: GreatExchange Church via creatsionswap.com
Sometimes life is hard.
I know. Hardly a news flash.
But I imagine Gaius (to whom 3 John is addressed) was in the midst of a hard time when John wrote him this letter. And he receives it and opens it up and sees the warm, encouraging words from John. The first half of the letter must have lifted his spirits in a way nothing else could. Just think about the last time you got a nice email or card from someone “just because.”
Diotrephes, on the other hand, strikes me as a power-hungry jerk. You may know someone like him. You give that person a modicum of power and it somehow all goes to their head. Diotrephes is on a war path. Best case scenario, he thinks he is “keeping the faith” and is misguided. Worst case scenario, he’s simply remaking the church (and its members) to his liking, kicking out anyone who gets in his way.
That makes it all the more important what John says in verse 10:
“So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us.”
Boom. John is going to bring it all to light and call Diotrephes on everything. Maybe you read that (if you’re like me) and you even think “Alright! Go get ‘em John!” Because let’s be honest, right or not, part of us all likes to see the “bad guy” get his comeuppance.
Yes. I just used the word comeuppance.
The takeaway here is that there is a time and a place for confrontation. John realizes this is one of those times. He’s exhausted other measures like in verse 9:
“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes who loves to be first, will not welcome us.”
And now he has to confront this division head on. This Diotrephes is acting as an antichrist. Little a. He is sowing dissent and division within the body of Christ. He simply must be stopped.
As you go about your life today, this week, this month, this year, may you be filled with a holy courage like that of John’s. May you have the courage to call out evil and harm where you see it, no matter what. May you stand up for what is right at home, work, and church. I hope you can do all this by speaking the truth in love. May you not be afraid to confront when the time is right, when other measures have been exhausted. Finally, may you follow John’s advice in verse 11:
“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”
Grace and peace.