In truth and love, God's perfect love cannot be separated from truth.
2 John from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever: 3 Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
4 I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father. 5 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.
12 Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.
13 The children of your chosen sister greet you.
It’s not clear whether John was writing to an actual individual woman or more likely speaking figuratively to a particular church body. The truth is, who he was writing to is not as important as what he said. Most of what John writes here repeats the theme of his previous letter. As difficult as it is to imagine, it seems one of the most prevalent teachings to come against the early church, even so soon after Jesus Himself has lived, died and been resurrected, was that He had not come at all. It should not surprise us then, that 2000 years later, it is still one of the most prevalent lies to come against the church and believers. It shouldn’t surprise us that those who deny Christ will deny Him it in spite of the evidence that He not only lived, but died and was raised from the grave. The very nature of a lie and a liar is to deny the truth. We see it throughout our society and culture today, even in the face of overwhelming evidence liars deny the truth. In John 8:42-47 Jesus confronts those who denied His message, even while He Himself was here and performed miracles in their presence. “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” A liar lies by their nature. There is no truth in them.
When denying the truth no longer works for one who lies, they will change their strategy. They will admit some truth but intertwine the truth with deception and lies. They will speak truth, but will twist the meaning in order to tell their lie. John says: Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. The truth of God, spoken by Jesus, which almost everyone is willing to embrace, is that we should love one another. Jesus said: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) He said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48) In John 12:34-35 Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Clearly then, according to Jesus, we should love our neighbor. We should love even our enemies and to His followers Jesus says that our love for one another will be evidence to the world that we are His disciples. There is no denying that love is foundational to faith in Christ. The deceit, the lies are in twisting the truth of what love looks like, how we demonstrate love.
If we begin with Jesus commandment to His disciples, we can understand why there is so much deception in our culture and society today. If love for one another, for fellow believers is evidence of being a disciple of Christ it is no wonder the world is uncertain about who Jesus disciples are. There is more criticism of the church from the church, than from the world. There is so much division, fighting over doctrines and preferences, there is twisting of Jesus words to fit individual doctrines as opposed to telling the truth, that the world doesn’t know who Jesus disciples are. That then opens the door to deception, the intertwining of truth with lies. Rather than believers being the representation and the demonstration of the love of God to the world, we have allowed the world to define what love should look like and how it should be demonstrated. Look again at what Jesus said about love. Regarding love for neighbors, He said it was second to loving God with all your soul, mind and strength. Our love for others flows out of our first and foremost love, our love for God. Our love for our enemies Jesus says, is to be like God’s perfect love. Romans 5:8-10 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. We were enemies of God. He demonstrated His love in Jesus dying for our sins. God’s love did not simply accept, tolerate or embrace our sin. Jesus died so that we would no longer be enemies of God, but rather we would be reconciled to God. If we would love our enemies, demonstrating the perfect love of God, Christ dying for sin, then they too would be reconciled to God. They then would no longer be our enemies but rather they would be fellow disciples who we are commanded to love. If on the other hand we allow the world to define love, if we tolerate, accept and embrace sin, then they remain enemies of God. Is it not better for us to love a brother? Then we should love enough to tell the truth.
Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. Amen.