The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 3 John, verse 1.
3 John is another short book (like 1 John and 2 John) that the apostle wrote to people he knew. In this short book, John writes to a friend to encourage him, and even to warn him about the conduct of a mutual acquaintance. Originally, the letter wasn’t thought to be part of canon Scripture, but revelation and time made it so. There’s even question about whether or not it’s written by the authentic Apostle John, though, according to the sources I read, its style is similar to the gospel of John. If you quickly read through it, you find that the letter is about loving God in the truth.
John wrote to his friend about a mutual friend, Diotrephes, who wasn’t acting in a way worthy of Christ. The writer was concerned about this, and told Gaius of his intentions to correct Diotrephes. John also reminded his friend to act hospitable to others, in ways that reflect Jesus’ love, and thus in ways opposite to those demonstrated by Diotrephes.
In other words, John reminded his friend that he loved him in faith, in the love of Jesus. Further, he reminded him that he would not only write: he would visit and help his friend, and set things straight.
That’s a friend for you. John wasn’t a Facebook friend, who you could agree to disagree with, or occasionally like his status posts. He wasn’t a fair-weather-friend, who might be there when things got tough, or he might not be as well. He wasn’t a know-it-all-friend, who told Gaius what to do and dominated their relationship. And he wasn’t a weak friend, who promised support but then flagged when the chips were down.
Do you think John had any idea that his letter would still be read 2000 years later? I seriously doubt that my emails, cards, letters, or blog posts will be read 2000 years from now; I’m simply not that important. And I seriously doubt that I’ve been the kind of friend to some people that the apostle was; in fact, I know I haven’t. And I seriously doubt, too, that I could pack as much punch into any of my 322 words that John does into his.
What I don’t doubt is that the letter is here for you to read today, and that if you’re open to reading it, then you’re walking in Jesus’ truth like John and his friend, Gaius. You and I are friends: online, in person, and in the faith. I pray that you be hospitable towards everyone you meet today, and that there are no people like a Diotrephes in your life, where you are, to complicate and cause friction. Life can be tough enough as is.
Dear Jesus, thank you for recording these words so long ago, and for teaching us still with them today. Encourage me to always walk in Your truth.