In 3 John, the apostle of love repeats his theme of love in truth and love of truth.
For John, love = truth and truth = love. In 3 John, this equation is manifest as in 2 John, only this time instead of being spoken of as true of a church, John portrays the love that is true in an individual, Gaius.
Just as St. John loved the Elect Lady in truth in 2 John, so he also loves Gaius in truth (verse 1.) Love is present not only in Gaius but also in John himself. In keeping with his own theology, John does more than just state his love for Gaius in a letter: he proves it by his actions.
First, we find that he prays for Gaius, praying that Gaius may prosper in all things and be in health, just as his soul prospers (verse 2.) One of the most loving things we can do for one another is to pray. If we love one another, as God loves us, then we ought to pray for one another, petitioning the one who is Himself Love. John’s love for Gaius makes him express his desire that Gaius be healthy not only in body but also in soul.
John’s love for Gaius is also shown by the way he rejoices when he hears that Gaius is walking in the truth (verses 3-4.) In fact, John’s love is no ordinary love for Gaius – it is the love of a father, for he refers to Gaius as one of his children. And what is it that makes parents joyful? Whenever we hear that our children are doing well. We rejoice when they score in a basketball game or make a steal, but we rejoice even more when we hear that they are walking in the truth.
My children are still relatively young, but my deepest desire for them is that they know the Truth, who is Jesus Christ, and that they walk in that truth. John connects these two things, as he sees them in the life of his son Gaius: that the truth is both in him and that he walks in it. It is by Gaius’ walking in the truth, so that all can see, that John knows that Gaius has the Truth in him (verse 3.) John knows that Gaius has the Truth in him because he has demonstrated it by “walking in love,” which means good works. What good works? In this case, Gaius has shown love both for the brethren in the church and also for strangers (verse 5.)
It’s interesting to think that by showing hospitality to these strangers that Gaius has “entertained angels.” No, not seraphim or cherubim, but “messengers,” which is what the word “angel” means. In showing love through hospitality to strangers, who are really not strangers but previously unknown brothers and sisters in the Lord from a different place, Gaius shows His love for the Lord. The result of his hospitable love is that these strangers then become angels or messengers of love, who have borne witness of Gaius’ love before the church.I can almost imagine the voice of Jesus saying, “To the angel of the Church where Gaius worships write, ‘I know your works, love, truth, and hospitality. You have kept my Word and not denied my name. Because you have kept my truth and love, I also will keep you from those who are full of lies and hatred and are inhospitable.”
Isn’t this the way we wish our Lord would speak about us? Isn’t this the testimony each of us wants other Christians to bear whenever they speak of us to our parents or children, our own church members, and those Christians in other places who may know us only by name?
What would your life have to look like in order for it to be said of you that the Truth is in you and that you have walked in the truth? That whatever you do, you do faithfully?
This is love: that you faithfully do whatever the Lord has asked you to do.
How would you have to plan and arrange your life so that this would be the testimony of your life when others spoke of you?
What if an entire church undertook to be a church of which it could be truthfully said that they loved one another? How would such a church have to plan and pray and act for others to speak of it as “The Church that Walks in Love and Truth?”
I’m dedicating my life to helping to build such a Church. Who will join me?
Prayer: Lord God, who alone is the Truth and the only source of love, give to me today an increase of your love and truth that I might be one who is known to walk in Your truth. May my house be open to other believers and my heart open to showing love to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Make me a fellow worker for the truth, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Resolution and Point for Meditation: I resolve to meditate on one way in which I could plan to be more loving or faithful in speaking and living the truth. Consider what truth the Lord has already been putting on your heart in recent days or weeks. Don’t look for the novel or exotic truth, but be content to be more faithful in the truth that the Spirit has already been whispering to you. Vow to take one practical step toward this life of love and truth.
© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson