John’s 3 Letters: Diotrophes the Unwelcoming

Johns 3 Letters Diotrophes the Unwelcoming.png      Everybody has heard of Star Wars. Even if you’re one of the 13 people on the face of the planet who have never seen any of the movies (And what, by the way is WRONG with you?!), you have HEARD of the franchise. (If you were teenagers when the very first one- Episode FOUR my eye- came out, you are pretty fully steeped in the mythos of Star Wars.) As there are 10 theatrically-released movies (with #11 out soon) and countless animated TV spinoffs, there are a TON of characters in the Star Wars universe. Because of that, you are bound to have some goofy character names. And BOY is that true! 

Let’s see- you have the curmudgeonly little rat-like character named Salacious Crumb. George Lucas was having an off day that day! There’s Therm Scissorpunch. There’s one that makes me laugh every time I heard it. There are ALL these Rebellion fighter pilots who are slim, trim and good looking with cook space names. And then there I the one token “big fat guy” Rebellion pilot whose name is…ready?…Jek Porkins. Porkins. Really? The ONE fighter pilot who is on the portly side and his name is…Porkins? How unoriginal! There is. Of course, Jar Jar Binks- Hall of Fame goofy name. But perhaps the goofiest name of all comes from the live-action holiday special that came out on the heels of the very first movie- before anybody was sure where this qhole thing was going. In that special, Chebacca, maybe the coolest character of them all, had a son. And his name was…Lumpy! Lumpy the Wookie! I just shake my head! 

But Lucas saved some of his BEST worst names for the main body of villains in the Star Wars universe- the Darths. Darth is a title and then there is a name that accompanies that title that distinguishes that particular villain. Some of those names are really cool- look no further than Darth Vader and Darth Maul. But some a bit…silly. Instead of fear and grudging respect, they draw chuckles and head shakes. There’s Darth Ferb- sounds like a Cartoon Network kid’s show! There’s Darth Kallous- a bit too overt and heavy-handed for my taste! There’s Darth Ravage- again, over the top. There’s Darth Ruyn- misspelling it doesn’t help! But the most unintentionally funny one is this one- Darthensmirtz. All one word. Darthensmirtz. Sounds like a tailor in the garment district of New York City! Saul Darthensmirtz…and his wife Ida. Saul and Ida Darthensmirtz…oooohhh, scary! May the Darthensmirtz be with you…always! 

Our current sermon series- John’s 3 Letters- focuses on the 3 letters of John (Makes sense!) found near the tail end of the New Testament. They’re rarely read, rarely referenced, but have a lot packed into their short length. Three different letters, written at three different times, to three different people- yet they’re all tied together by the same ideas. Week 1, we started by talking about Love and Hatred. Week 2, we moved to Water and Blood. Week 3, we considered the Lady and Her Children. Week 4, we moved to Don’t Lose What You’ve Worked For. Last week, we looked at Gaius the Faithful. Today, we bring it all home with Diotrephes the Unwelcoming, where we meet a new character and consider what it means to be faithful to God. Here is today’s Scripture: 

3John 1:9-14 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. 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. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true. I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name. 

John clearly doesn’t think much of Diotrophes. He LOVES to be first. We does not welcome us. He spreads malicious nonsense about us. He refuses to welcome other believers. He stops people who want to welcome others from doing so, going as far as kicking them out of the church.  

Now, we may chuckle about this and say that John is exaggerating. But I have gone to church with Diotrophes. He just called himself by a different name. I warn new people I hire to be my office administrator that they are about to see a side of people they have never seen before in the church. I tell them, “You will come to me in a month and be amazed that people would act this way in church.” Diotrophes doesn’t live as far away from us as we might think. 

On the other hand, John says, there is Demetrius. He is well spoken of by everybody. And he speaks well of everybody. It’ like the Goofus and Gallant strip from the Highlights magazine at the doctor’s office. Demetrius models that which is good, not that which is evil. Demetrius is of God. Diotrophes is not. 

Her closes with the same thing he said early- “I have much more to say but I don’t want to put pen to paper. I would rather talk to you in person. I hope to do that soon.” And with that, John’s 3 short letters come to an end.   

So, what do I carry away from these three short letters, written at 3 different times to 3 different people in 3 different places? This- what you DO reflects how you see God. Did you hear that? What you DO reflects how you SEE God. Anyone who does good reflects God- is FROM God. But anyone who does evil has not even SEEN God. John sets the bar high here. But he doesn’t do it because he wants us to fail. He does it because that’s where GOD sets the bar. God also doesn’t want us to fail. Instead, he wants us to reach for the highest goal attainable. He KNOWS we won’t always attain it. But it doesn’t mean we till shouldn’t SHOOT for it. Aim high- that way, if you miss the mark, at least you will hit higher than if you aimed low in the first place.

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