We live in a world that loves to pervert the truth. The perversion occurs against both at the level of science and of Creation. If you have doubts, just watch the news for a few days. Can you discern any clear message on the topics of education, health, economy, our environment, causes of crime, drugs, warring countries? Do you even know who’s in charge of our own country? Nothing seems settled or sacred anymore including life. It is important to remember that science, the rules of our universe, were all created by God’s hand. There is but One Truth. Truth, however, has now become just an “inconvenient truth.” It appears that God’s Truth often interferes with the path to wealth and power. Our Apostle Paul tells us how this happens:
(Romans 1:21-25)1NIV New International Version Translations – “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
Our question for this week should be how to get back on track with God?
(Ezekiel 22:30) – “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.”
Ezekiel was staring at gaps in a societal wall where perversions were commonplace. He was staring out at real walls too. The reference to the walls of Jerusalem was a metaphor for the ills of Jewish society. The condition of the “real walls” exemplified a decaying society. They no longer took pride in their city. Because of the perversions of society, the people, the children were not protected any longer. As Ezekiel called out to God for answers, God simply said, “fill the gaps with people who know the Truth.” God had searched but did not find anyone worthy to fill the role of “Wall Repairer.” Is there a place in our Bible where we might find such a “game plan” to redemption and better discernment? Where in society might we find the wall repairers?
In what is the second shortest book in the Bible, we might try the often overlooked second letter from the Apostle John. John is important because, as the oldest living disciple of Christ, John lived long enough to see how our world distorts the Truth about Christ. John may be the best author to help us understand how to handle the enemies of the Truth. John did not identify himself by name in this letter, but he did use the term “elder.” This was not without precedent. Peter did that very thing in his first letter (1 Peter 5:1). John’s short letter is written to “the chosen lady and her children,” a love he shared with those who knew the truth (2 John 1:1). The apostle was responding to reports he had received that this group of believers was following the teachings of Christ. That was a good thing.
(2 John 1:5) – “And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.”
There is nothing new in Second John that you cannot find in any other of the apostle’s writings. The apostle is extending a warning that some people are destructive to Christ’s message. John was simply warning this church about such false teachings. Remember, John was older and had more experience in the perversions of Jesus’ message and Truth. He saw how easy it was to destroy the very foundation of a Godly society. John told the church members not to accept those teachers in their homes that did not teach the Truth about Christ. Christ’s Truth: love each other and live out the true message that they had received from Him. Between Ezekiel’s and John’s message, one could summarize that society around the people of Israel was degrading. God’s plan was to plug the gaps, fix the societal ills with knowledgeable people who would serve Him. Unfortunately, God couldn’t find anyone.
Fast forward to today. Do you think society knows who Jesus is? Most people believe He was a real man but not enough believe He died for us. Our world today denies the Truth that Jesus is Christ, the resurrected Son of God. Life together in Christian love is great protection against deception. John uses the word “truth” five times in the first four verses. He speaks of those he “loves in truth”, those who “know the truth”, and living in Christ “for the sake of the truth”. In verse 4, John speaks of being glad to find “children walking in the truth”.
Just decades after the ministry of Jesus on earth, false teachers were already active in Jewish society. John spends the second half of this letter warning us against them. Believers today must be careful to know and understand the truth of the gospel and speak out against those who would manipulate it. In a world where truth is considered subjective and based on feelings, knowing, and living out biblical truth is critical to sustaining the impact of the gospel on our world.
John brings us back to the words of Jesus written in John 13:34, the commandment that “we have had from the beginning” (verse 5) that we should “love one another.” John goes on to tell us what this means: to “walk in obedience to his commands”. In this way honoring the truth of the gospel and living in obedience to it is specifically tied to the way we treat and love one another.
(2 John 1:12) – “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”
In a world driven by technology, mobile phones, social media, and instant communication, we often miss out on the joy of having a good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation. It is easy to miss both smiles and tears online. Second John ends with a declaration of having much to say but preferring to share these things “face to face” instead of writing them “with paper and ink”. His reason: so that the people’s “joy be made complete.”
COVID, mandatory masks, lockdowns have pressure tested everyone’s faith in God’s Truth. Let’s take a refresher:
- God is moral (e.g., His character, such His justice, and faithfulness) God gives us examples through Christ. God did not give us COVID! A sinful world gave us COVID!
- God is truth declares that the very definition of truth itself can be found only in God’s nature. Other things can be truthful, but only God Himself IS Truth.
- Hebrews 6:18 states that “God can’t lie.”
- God is unchanging: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17; see also Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). Because God does not change, we can remain confident in His ongoing faithfulness, truthfulness. This can never be said about humankind.
There was a time when following God’s Laws freed one from the impact of humanity’s interference. Rules, regulations were only meant to gird up God’s Commands, providing no one with an advantage. You remember, Exodus 20:13: “You shall not murder” meant no taking of innocent lives. Things have changed! Many disagree over the definition of when life itself begins, create policies that place children in harm’s way, even accept the collateral damage of a sinful society (watch Chicago’s news for a weekend). Is all of God’s Truth really subject to review and modification? Or has the Apostle John given us a message for today? John has told us that when we are in Christ, submitting to His truth, God’s Truth will prevail IN us. When that happens, something changes! God’s Truth overshadows our own opinions and desires. And what does all that get us? “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
- What do you see in our country that God is most displeased with?
- Ideas to Explore: Societal ills? Wealth? The extent of social programs disincentivizing labor? Lack of belief? Selfishness? Who do we elect as leaders? Any you want to add?
- With society losing interest in God, what do you think the future looks like for our nation?
- Ideas to Explore: God is no longer in schools. God is found in fewer and fewer families. Can society function without a belief in God?
- Why would Christ be so important to our society as compared to just generally believing in God?
- Ideas to Explore: What is it about Christ’s command to love one another that binds Christians together? The command to love one another is between believers – do you think we are being called to love non-believers in such a way as to give them a free pass for sin?
- What are your concerns with being asked to stand up and fill a gap in society’s wall?
- Ideas to Explore: Twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the good works. Why?
- What areas have you seen the intrusion of false teaching in both society and churches?
- Ideas to Explore: How comfortable are you with “Discomfort?” Why is it that we never have enough time to become servants? What is your greatest fear in becoming a “wall repairer” and standing in the gap?
- What do you think it means not to accept those who are false teachers in your home?
- Ideas to Explore: While in the apostle John’s time, this was taken as a literal statement, how would you interpret it today? Does this mean avoiding the support of friends, coworkers or politicians who are against what Jesus taught? Why or why not?
- John says to do “face-to-face” communications – what is lost when we don’t see someone’s face during a discussion?
- Ideas to Explore: Impacts of COVID masks on education, families, neighbors? Could you share the Gospel’s message of hope with a mask on? What are the challenges?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations