This letter is from John, the elder. I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth--as does everyone else who knows the truth-- because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever. Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ--the Son of the Father--will continue to be with us who live in truth and love. - 2John 1-3 (NLT)
Tucked away towards the end of the New Testament, we find the Epistles from the Apostle John. The second epistle is very short, spanning only 13 verses and 332 words. Yet within this short space, John uses the words love and truth five times each. That is because these two words are inseparable to God. There is no love without truth and there is no truth without love. Not coincidentally, these are two of the most abused and confused words in Christendom today. Truth has become flexible in the mouths of those who seek to build earthly kingdoms, using God to achieve their own designs. Love has become a catch phrase for people hiding behind doctrine-less Christianity, stripped of the truest act of love - the cross. On this Valentines Day, which supports the false love the world offers, let us look at this love letter God has written to His church and see what is truly important when we consider both love and truth.
I say that this letter is written to the church and I do not mean simply because the Bible as a whole is intended for the Body of Christ. Scholars agree that this letter is specifically written by John to the church that was under persecution at the time of its writing. The key verses refer to the letter being written to the "chosen lady and her children" but that is in all likelihood code for the church as a whole and the congregation as her children. It is in fact the church that is the chosen lady of God; the Bride of Christ. Note from the key verses John starts by stating his love for the church in the truth. Once again they are inseparable. John goes further though boldly stating that if one knows the truth that they too must profess to love the church because the truth of God must live in us if we are to be followers of Jesus Christ. Mind you, this is not speaking of the vast majority that refers to itself as the church today. It is referring to the true Body of Christ. Those that do as the Master says. Those that do not distort the truth as we will see later in this letter. The things we desire and need the most - grace, mercy and peace - will continue to be with those who live in truth and love. Not those who have an unblemished tithing record. Not those that serve in purpose driven ministries. Not those that speak their faith into existence. Not those that speak the loudest, sing the prettiest, or have the most warm bodies occupying pews across this land. No beloved - those who live in the truth and love. Let us now continue with the love letter from God to us today:
How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded. I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. - 2John 4-6 (NLT)
This is the portion of the letter dealing with love. This is not a new commandment. It is at the heart of the golden rule and when Jesus gave that rule He described it as being the essence of the entire law and prophets! If you asked people what love means I am sure the answers would be quite varied. Many would focus on deep unconditional affection. Others would speak to more intimate or even sexual desires. The sad thing is if we asked people in church the answers would not be much different. If there is any one area that Christians defer to the worldly way of thinking on the most - it is about love. But look here at these verses and we will find the secret. Love means doing what God has commanded us! What God has commanded us is in the Bible. The Bible is the absolute truth we are to live by. Coming full circle again, love is truth.
I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son. - 2John 7-9 (NLT)
Wait a minute! Why is there a warning about false teachers and prophets in the middle of God's love letter? Because that is how important the matter is to God beloved! We have seen a concerted effort over the last couple of decades to marginalize doctrine. To make doctrine a dirty word. We have huge mega-ministries that exist virtually devoid of true doctrine. We have other huge mega ministries built upon poisoned doctrine. But remember, you cannot have love without truth. There is no claim to love someone as a Christian and yet be compromising the truth. We need to be watching out more diligently than we have to not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. The sad truth is that far too many believers welcome the spirit of antichrist into their churches with open arms, citing unity and not wanting to make waves. Just like not everyone who says Lord Lord is getting into heaven not everyone who claims the mantle of Jesus Christ is actually serving Him. We are supposed to be Bereans and test everything. We are called to discern and evaluate fruit. There is an old anecdote that says if you place a frog in cold water and slowly raise heat under it to boiling the frog will never jump out and die completely unaware that its surrounding conditions were slowly killing it. That is the state of the modern church today. Far too many of us sit in churches that are slowly killing us; seemingly oblivious to it. When someone points out the heat that is boiling the water they are greeted with choruses of "Pharisee" and "Discord." No matter how much you think it is loving to not call what is false, false, you are mistaken. There is no love without the truth. There is no truth without love.