Monday, 28 April 2008

Dealing with Family (3 John)

I don't know how you feel about your family but I love mine. Although we don't always agree, we manage to have some great times. The other day I sent my bro this picture just for a laugh and today I got a one word reply - "Fool" - Brilliant! I love it when family know just what you're like and you can say anything to them and you know they'll accept you because you're family and they love you, even if you're as silly as me! John knows that this is what the family of God ought to be like and he's writing to some brothers and sisters about it...


As Christians (if we're Christians), we have been welcomed into a huge spiritual family - God's family and we are brothers and sisters with Jesus! Sometimes we're great at remembering this and other times we're not!

John's buzzing about some of his family that have visited recently from another part of the church. They brought him great joy because they were full of stories about how other parts of the family are doing and how they're growing. We could learn from this! Do we get excited about this kind of stuff? John says he has no greater joy than to hear about other Christians living in the truth (v4).

John writes also to remind his readers to be encouraging to other Christians who are doing things for Jesus and not to neglect them (v5-8). He talks about showing hospitality to others who are working for Jesus. We should show love and practical help to other Christians because even though they might be strangers to us - they're part of our family because they belong to Jesus and are living for him.

Sometimes Christians are rubbish at being family. John mentions this guy Diotrephes, who's doing the exact opposite of supporting his family - he's slandering them and spreading lies and gossip about them just to make himself look good (v10-11). It happens! Have you ever experienced other Christians putting themselves first and deliberately being deceptive and even preventing other brothers and sisters from doing work for Jesus? I have! Like any family, we have our breakdowns at times and relationships aren't what they should be. We shouldn't paper over the cracks and pretend that everything's fine in the church. Sometimes there's rot and rubbish in the church and we need to sort it out! This could mean being ready to challenge sin in each other when we see it happening unchecked and being ready for others to lovingly challenge our mistakes and attitudes too!

The great thing is that when Christians do live as family together and encourage each other as John suggests, others notice that something special is going on. Christians should be the kind of loving community that causes others to realise that something is different about us. The difference is that God is living in his people! This kind of thing ought to be noticeable in the way we hang out as Christians!

A challenge...
What are you most excited about really? Ask God to make you increasingly excited about seeing others get to know him and live for him more and more and ask him to help you to do the same too! Maybe you could encourage one of your brothers or sisters with a letter about all the things God is doing in your life and those around you - exciting stories! Or maybe just send them a silly photo of yourself like I did!