This is the whole book of 2 John right here.
A little background on all the Johns ha, ha running around the New Testament. In all seriousness, John was very concerned with two heresies cropping up in the early church: Gnosticism and Cerinthianism. Gnostics believed that only the spirit was divine, and that everything worldly was profane.
The divine spirit of a person could only be released through some sort of special, mystic knowledge of which Jesus Christ was an emissary. This would mean Jesus was not divinely conceived and not wholly human and wholly divine. The church was very young when this letter was written, like maybe eighty years old. If this sounds rather calculating — it was. In fact, I admire them for being able to shepherd Christianity through such a trying time, but it is important to remember that history is written by the victors. Should Cerinthus or the Gnostics gained more followers, Christianity might be completely different than it is today.
Human influences directing the course of religious thought? That can only mean one thing: while Christ may not be fallible, Christianity most certainly is. Remember, Christianity used to promote the Crusades and slavery.
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There were some Christians who praised Hitler. Those were human influences on a religion that changed or thankfully disappeared over time. A fluid Christianity means we are allowed to explore our faith, our relationship with God, and know that if we mess up — or if our religion messes up — we get to try again. Faith can be like that, too. While it would certainly be easier to turn a blind eye to the sufferings of those not like us — and justify it with a Bible verse, to boot!
Long story short, context is important for everyone, not just biblical scholars! It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is the seed sown along the path. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Where then did the weeds come from? At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn. Whoever has ears, let them hear. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. Where then did this man get all these things? Just as a marathon runner trains for their sport, just as a musician practices their art, we must properly prepare our hearts for Jesus. Or, as Jesus puts it, the soil of our hearts must be made ready to receive his message.
Then, and only then, will our hearts and his message grow. I can recognize that as an important truth. But I also have so much that I feel overwhelmed with the incredible wealth and safety and privileges I am lucky to have. How can I say no to people who have so much less? For example: God is not neutral — God is always on the side of the poor, the downtrodden, the misused.
I deeply feel the truth of this. I see how easy a trap that would be to fall into. But what about when their behavior is so draining that you feel nothing but dread at the thought of contact? I deserve to be happy too. How do you manage to love God, love neighbor, and love self all at the same time? It often feels impossible. Her comment stunned me. I knew the Biblical stories, but I always interpreted them as time Jesus spent in contemplative prayer — in short, in loving God. The command is in the present tense which means this is to be a continuous or habitual action on your part.
This command goes far beyond the radical love commands of the previous section. You are no longer simply refusing to take revenge on your enemies. But now you are actively pursuing their goodwill and loving them from your heart. The enemy becomes your neighbor, and you love him as a friend. Haters gonna hate, but Christians gonna love. First of all you should pray for those who persecute you. And so Jesus is saying that even as your enemies are persecuting you, you are to be actively loving them and praying for them.
Notice you are to pray for them, not against them. This is obviously a prayer for blessing here, not cursing! This is different from the imprecatory Psalms we looked at earlier in the Old Testament. Remember in the imprecatory Psalms you did not hate people because they were your enemies. You declared them your enemies because they hated God. Jesus is talking about your personal enemies here, and he says you are to love them and pray for them. You may be cut off from all other forms of communication with your enemy, but you can always pray for them.
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Prayer is essential because it is impossible to pray for someone without loving them. Jesus is our perfect example here. Persecution will only grow for us as Christians.
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So you need to be ready to stand firm, be ready to pray, be ready to love. Secondly Jesus says you should live as children of your heavenly Father. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. This is the reason Jesus gives for loving your enemies. That may or may not happen.
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And how does your heavenly Father act? He gives his blessings to all regardless of their personal allegiance to him. This is the way God is. He showers his love and kindness on all people without distinction.
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Sun and rain were both considered blessings in those days. When you had crops to grow, nobody cared if it rained on their picnic. Notice God makes the sun rise, and the sun is his. The whole created order belongs to God because he created it.
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