Sunday, July 16
2 and 3 John, Jude
Congratulations, you were born at a time when society rejects the notion of absolute truth! The world of the late 20th and early 21st century is characterized by a movement known as Post-modernism. It’s the age of skepticism, of subjectivity. It’s the age when society has been systematically doing away with notions of absolute, objective truth. The Post-modern notion is that reality is socially constructed. A good example of this is the idea of gender. Back in the olden days, before Post-modernism, you were either a male or a female. The way that you knew this was fairly simple and it was based on your physical anatomy. You were objectively a male or a female depending on how your body was equipped. But we were so unenlightened back in those days. Now we know that gender has nothing to do with the objective reality of your biological make up or even your D.N.A. It is determined by how you feel… it’s subjective and it’s fluid.
Along with the death of absolute truth in favor of subjectivity has come a change in notions of what is right and wrong. It used to be that right and wrong were measured against a set of standards given by authority. That authority was either God, or the laws of society. So things like murder or stealing, or adultery were wrong. Now, it seems, the far greater wrong is to tell people that they are not free to do as they please. It’s wrong to tell a man that he’s not free to marry another man or to tell a woman that she is not free to marry another woman. It’s wrong to use the masculine pronoun “He” to refer to God… or to even say that there is a God who makes rules about what is right and what is wrong.
These changes in our worldview are troubling to older people like me, and they should be troubling to younger people, too. However, this should not come as a surprise to any of us. For the Bible predicted, nearly 2000 years ago, that such things would happen. In fact, it was beginning to happen in some places even then.
In the back of your Bible are some letters that are so small they are almost invisible. The letters of 2 and 3 John and Jude are extremely brief. Sandwiched between the longer letter of I John and the book of Revelation, 2 and 3 John and Jude are short, but don’t dismiss them as being unimportant. Each of them has some important things to say about the need for objective truth and the need for Christians to stay faithful to the truth and to fight for the truth.
“I ask that we love one another. 6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” II Jn 5-6.
Love is a great thing and it is at the heart of Christianity. Jesus said that the most important command is to love God and to love others. It’s important to understand that love is a term that is often subject to people’s arbitrary definitions. Love has become highly subjectivized. Love is whatever I say it is. John here offers a corrective to this subjective, Post-modern view of love. Love, as John defines it, is to “walk in obedience to his commands.” Love is more than just feeling good inside about God or your neighbor. There is objective content to love. It’s in a different part of the Bible, but go back sometime and check out I Corinthians 13 vs. 4-7. It gives a good, practical description of what love is… and it has very little to do with your feelings and everything to do with right actions. Love of God and neighbor is all about doing the things that God has commanded us to do.
3” It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – III John 3-4. Here, John holds up the standard of truth for Christians to follow and live by. We are to “walk in the truth.” This has to do with obedience to an objective standard or truth. God has things that he expects us to obey. There is a way that God expects us to live. Truth has objective content that we need to understand and obey. Post-modernism has tried to jettison this idea of objective truth and replace it with our own definition. Again, this is nothing new. In the Old Testament book of Judges it describes a time in Israel before there were kings that’s described as follows: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25. Just as Judges points to a time in our past history when people followed their own subjective desires rather than submitting to the objective truth of God as revealed by His word and by Jesus Christ, Jude warns of a time that was still to come when this would again be the case: 18…“In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” Jude 18-19
As followers of Jesus, who is our true and ultimate king, we must reject this. We must follow the teaching of our king, we must receive his instructions to us as absolute truth and we must follow him by walking in that truth. It is sad when the people of the world abandon truth and follow their own desires. It is absolutely tragic when Christians abandon the absolute truth of God and fall for the subjective lies of this broken world. And yet, many Christians have done exactly this. Jude gives a strong admonition to all believers:3 “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Jude3-4
Jude wants desperately for us to not allow ourselves to be lied to by any who would distort and twist the clear objective truth of God’s word and the absolute teachings of Jesus, in order to justify their own perversions. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that there’s no absolute truth, no black and white or right and wrong. There is and always will be truth, and that truth, as Jude contends, is worth fighting for. As you go to school or university or talk at work or with your friends, or even at Church, wherever you go where some would seek to undermine the objective truth of God’s word and substitute the subjectivity of this world with its anything goes faulty belief system, stand firm, don’t give up!!
(Photo Credit: https://dailybiblememe.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/2-john-16/)