Week 51 Are We A Help or a Hindrance in Spreading God’s Love?

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 51

Scripture Readings: 3 John

Key Scripture Verses: 3 John 1:11 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”

This book is a very short book of the Bible. In fact, 3 John is only comprised of one chapter and 14 verses. It is a short letter by the Apostle John to his friend Gaius to praise him for taking care of traveling missionaries and furthering the spread of the gospel by doing so. Gaius was sharing his home and providing hospitality, facilitating their efforts.

In the letter, John contrasted what Gaius was doing with that of another individual, Diotrephes, who was someone who wanted to take control in the church and who did not welcome the travelers, but caused strife by keeping others out of his individual church. John wrote of Diotrephes as someone “who loves to be first” and who “will not welcome us,” and that “he even refuses to welcome other believers.”

Diotrephes was apparently a person who wanted leadership for the wrong reasons. He wanted to elevate his own position and wanted to control what happened in the church, wanted to remove others from the church who opposed his leadership.

Unfortunately, the problems that occur outside of the church can also sometimes be found in the church. When those in administration of church activities are acting out of their own pride and their own ideas instead of prayerfully considering their duties based on principles of Christian love and discipleship, they are not doing God’s will, but their own. Because we are all sinners, we need to be mindful of whether our decisions are made out of faith or out of our own desires and pride.

Churches can become like cliques. Because we love our own fellowship, we may not be welcoming to others who visit, caring for our own desires to be with our friends and forgetting that the church is meant to be open to all believers and to unbelievers who may be exploring what our faith is about.

We are called to be Christ-like, to strive in all things to love one another and to emulate Jesus. He is our only example of pure love. We need to be in continual prayer for our church and our church leaders that we are following God’s will and sharing his love with others.

May we always be mindful of why we do what we do within the church. May we pray for our church and the decisions we are involved in, so that our decisions are shaped by God’s will and not our own. We need to be a help–not a hindrance– in spreading the gospel. May all that we do be done in love.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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