Fact is, I’m quite choosy about who gets into my house. Family, friends and well meaning visitors are always welcome. But there are those who will find it hard to gain admittance: salesmen only after a sale, strangers I don’t know, criminals, wild animals, etc. They will find the door locked.
The more I think about it, I suppose more people have been locked out of my house than have been let in. Why? Because I value what’s within. I value my family, our memories, and our stuff (stuff last). You may be the same.
Value applies criteria to the privilege of admission.
This informs our definition of love. The apostle John is well known for his big picture view of God and faith. And love lies at the center of that definition. But make no mistake – love, for John, has clear criteria. When it comes to love of God, it means to follow His commands as expressed through Christ (1 John 5:3). When it comes to love of others, it means to love God (2 John 6). Love has little to do with our cultural concept of something that you fall into (and later, at a convenient time – fall back out of). No, it’s more like something you step into with full force of will, and remain in because of clear criteria.
You “love” your teeth so you go to the Dentist. You “love” your child so you raise them with discipline. You “love” being connected 24/7, so you buy a Smartphone. Hi speed oral drills, discipline, and giving away cash, have little to do with feeling good. They are the criteria of admission.
And 2 John has something to say about admission to your home. If someone comes to your “front door” with these credentials, don’t let them in if you love God and you value what’s behind your door:
- a deceiver who is anti-Christ (this is not some person dressed in red with horns and fangs, but rather someone who does not hold to the life, mission, sacrifice, and resurrection of Christ – they are “anti” Christ), AND…
- they are a teacher of the anti-Christ concept (they are not interested in having a conversation with you; they are interested in destroying your faith by subtle or not-so-subtle means)
This is someone with something to sell. Something that is anti Christ. Don’t buy. Don’t even open the door.
In the late first century AD, this was a growing problem. People had become “so much smarter” in the nineties than they were in the sixties (AD) that they had run ahead of the teaching of Christ. Kind of reminds me of how our culture today thinks about the nineties (as in 1990s) – “what did we do before the internet?“ A little historically untested knowledge can make anyone think they’re more sophisticated than they really are. And by the way, we did a lot.
Back to the nineties – religious salesmen were showing up at churches/believers “front doors” with new knowledge to teach. John’s word sounds unloving: “don’t let them in/don’t welcome them“. But in reality, it was very loving for those who lived within.
I don’t think I know person who loves strangers with bad intent coming to their front door. But I know many (including myself) who pay money to have such strangers bypass our front door entirely and stand right before those we love most, and speak anti-Christ. They come in through cable, satellite, radio, internet, literature, books, etc. The front door has changed. Are we paying attention?
Have you listened to what you’re laughing at? Is what you’re paying for something that does not “have God“? Are we loving our families? Are we loving God? Or should we be a tad more willing to lock the door?
This begs another question. Do you know the criteria of admission? Do you know the commands of Christ in the first place? In true love, as in most enduring areas of life, content is king. What you know matters. Knowing what Christ commands (what God desires) enables you to know when to turn the lock of love. So study, learn, and turn.
I’m still listening… for the click of love. Maybe we can encourage each other to turn that lock.