“Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.” (3 John 1:11 NLT)
As I was re-reading this passage of scripture this morning, what John was saying to the church in his letter reminded me that we are indeed “without excuse” when it comes to knowing how we should live.
The bad example John references is the “church leader” who throws people out of the church when people don’t do what he says, rather than what is good. John was encouraging people to help support “the traveling teachers” (evangelists), Diotrephes was opposed to welcoming or supporting those traveling to teach The Word and told people not to help, and when they did help, he threw them out of the church. Considering this church was probably meeting in his home–he felt he had every right to control what occurs in his home.
Are there any church leaders who are doing the same thing today? There are some who are so puffed up with their own importance and what they have to say, that if a person doesn’t support what they want, they invite them to leave the church! I have been in churches where the leaders were dictators and felt they had a right to be so since it was their “father or mother” who had founded the church. What they failed to realize is that a relative may have established a ministry in a local building, but that does not give them the right to dictate to people who do not support their “self-righteousness”.
In one church in particular, I got tired of the attitude and left. When a person can “see” that God is not in charge of the situation, the only recourse one has to stay in right relationship with God is to just leave–the madness–not God.
That’s the other thing that baffles me. When people do leave a church because they do not see God’s hand in anything that’s taking place, why do people assume that person is “leaving God” and not just a building?
It is amazing to me that some get so caught up in themselves that they do not even recognize when they have taken charge in a church and left God completely out of the situation. Oh, they “posture” at teaching, using The Word, but then they negate The Word with their own sense of righteousness and setting standards for others according to what they do–not what The Word says. God is not mocked–He sees it all and understands the motives in the person’s heart–and only that person is deceived–by their self-righteousness.
This is why John was writing this letter–to encourage people to follow the “good examples” and influence of those who are not only teaching God’s truth, but living God’s truth for all to see.
I am a passionate advocate for those who have want to follow truth and have been deceived by people. And my advice is similar to John’s. If there is no indication of a person or church leaders doing things according to God’s Truth–RUN and don’t look back! When we know what God has said, we are held accountable for what we do–on all levels and what we say.
Don’t be fooled or cajoled into following people—FOLLOW THOSE WHO FOLLOW CHRIST IN WORD AND DEED–ALWAYS DOING GOOD FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS!