Lenten Reflection for March 24

Scriptures for today

  • Psalm 81
  • Genesis 24:1-27
2 John 1-13

Photo of table, chairs and old pailsThe Second Letter of John

This letter was written by John to a Christian family or community that is headed by a woman John calls the “lady chosen by God”.

In the first half of the letter, John encourages her to follow the command that is to be the “rule of life”:  love one another.

Well, that seems pretty simple.  But that phrase is one that I’ve always had some difficulty with.  Who’s included in “one another”?  What does it really mean that we should love them and how do we show that love?  John says that love means following the commandments of God but, if we follow Jesus as our model of what loving one another means, then we have to do a lot of things that are pretty uncomfortable.  We have to love people we really don’t like too much; we have to include the beggars at our table, not just toss them coins; we have to challenge society’s laws and practices that exclude people on the basis of age or gender or race or religion or financial status or social situation.   I find that hard to do, but it really is necessary if we are committed to loving one another enough to share our wealth and change our priorities so that all are loved.

So that simple phrase isn’t really that simple.  And John goes on to make things even more complex because the second half of his letter warns the woman to beware of the people in her society, perhaps even in her family, who do not acknowledge that “Jesus is coming in the flesh”.   These people, he directs, are to be kept out of one’s house and shunned.

Whoa. Wait a minute. What happened to “love one another”?  Aren’t we supposed to love our enemies?  And yet John seems to feel that the survival of the community they have worked for justifies this behaviour.   In our society we generally feel that everyone has the right to express opinions and to be respected (within limits). If I view this letter metaphorically, I can take John’s directives to mean that we should shun ideas, beliefs and propaganda that work against achieving the just society that Jesus exemplified. That sometimes is just as hard as the lady in the letter would find turning her own children away because of their beliefs. 

by Mardy Roberts

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