The apostle John was known as the disciple whom Jesus loved. He was in the Lord’s inner circle that included Peter, James, and John. He was part of the dynamic brother duo: James and John, who were called the “Sons of Thunder”. In one vivid incident, we observe the siblings exhibiting some truly thunder-like qualities. Jesus and His disciples were traveling through Samaria on their way to Jerusalem when they ran into trouble. Jesus attempted to find one place for all of them to stay for the night. But, he was met with opposition from the villagers, simply because His destination was Jerusalem—the Samaritans didn’t want these Jews to stay with them. “When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’” (Luke 9:54). Jesus rebuked the brothers, and they all went to another village. James and John’s response to the Samaritans reveals a passion and anger that could properly be called “thunderous”—and we can be sure there were other instances when James and John lived up to their nickname.
Somewhere along the way though, John gave up this lesser version of himself in favor of walking in love. Maybe, it was as he leaned on Jesus in the upper room at the Last Supper and came in tune with the heartbeat of God. Or perhaps the change occurred, when he was the only one of the 12 present at the cross when Jesus spoke the words, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing”. However, it occurred, when he realized how much he had been loved, even though he didn’t deserve it, he seemed to change the way he thought about and treated others.
In all of his writings, love is a foundational theme. Second John is no exception. In this short 13 verse letter, John reiterates the importance of following Jesus’ commandment of walking in love one with another but he doesn’t stop there. He reminds his hearers that they must not allow themselves to sacrifice truth in the name of love. He warns them that there will be many deceivers who will come to try and convince them that Jesus isn’t really going to return like He said that He would. It’s interesting in today’s culture that truth is being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. On the other hand, those who have been given the truth must not use it as an occasion to not speak it in love.
The Lord challenged me with this whole idea a couple of years ago when he asked me if I loved His people. I was shocked and said back to him in my best Peter tone, “Lord, you know I love your people”. He went on to ask a question that I try and remind myself of every day. “Do you love them enough to tell them the truth?” As I stammered trying to find an appropriate answer I found myself saying that I wanted to but I was afraid. I feared being rejected by people I wanted to like me. What I now know as I’ve tried to practice speaking the truth in love consistently is that people really do get the help they’re looking for because it is God’s truth that makes us free. My prayer is that God would help us all to find the balance in this and be known as Christ followers that love enough to speak the truth.