First of all, if you would like to go a little further with 3 John, Bob and Jeannie Pino wrote an excellent, short, reflective study guide. Click here to see it.
Here is a summary of the indictment against Diotrephes:
- Maintain a 'Me-First' Mindset.
- Avoid Conflict Resolution.
- Spread 'Malicious Nonsense' (Gossip).
- Don't welcome new people into the movement.
- Avoid Positive Influences.
- Throw out insiders who are trying to help.
We get these 6 things from 3 John verses 9-10(NIV): "I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church."
I fleshed out the first 3 in today's message, which you can listen to by clicking here. I only had time to get to the first 3 things. In three posts on this blog, I'll spend a little time fleshing out the last 3.
Don't welcome new people into the movement
We see it again and again in all kinds of organizations. It's truly amazing how remarkably intelligent humans can be, yet how we repeat the same obvious mistakes over and over again. We could name hundreds of examples. Radio Shack had an opportunity to be the premier leader in the personal computer retail market. Woolworth's and KMart had a real shot at fending off the threat that Wal Mart posed to them. Circuit City could have remained in business and competed head-to-head with Best Buy. A seemingly endless list of companies that refused to welcome the 'new people' of the current or modern culture. They refused to see the world that existed, and instead chose to live in a day that had passed them by. And what did consumers do? Felling unwelcomed by dated atmospheres, they went elsewhere for their needs.
Unfortunately, it happens all too often in the church. Diotrephes was interested in circling the wagons and not allowing any new people - especially leader types - into his group. John says that Diotrephes "refuses to welcome the brothers." John had sent some church leaders to see how things were going, learn about what was working, and perhaps give some outside advice. Diotrephes would have none of it. Why? I suspect he felt threatened by such voices. But he needn't have felt that way if he was interested in the good of the church...because that's all the 'brothers' were interested in. If they were all focused on the same goal; if they agreed on the same mission; if they had the same purpose - then they could freely share new ideas without feeling threatened.
Everything is constantly in motion. My family is very different than it was even 5 years ago. So is the culture in which we live. So is our community. So is our church. If you're department, club, team, business or home is not different today than it was not-so-long-ago, it might be worth asking why? I'm not talking about a compromise on a core value. I'm talking about changing our methods, not our message.
Successful organizations stay true to their core values and their mission, etc. But they are constantly changing how they execute and live out the principles that make them them, because the culture and world changes. They hear, learn, listen and respond in different ways today than they did just a few years ago.
PCC will always welcome new people, new voices, new leaders, new ideas. We will never change our mission or our message but we will constantly adjust our method. It's what Diotrephes refused to do, but it's exactly what Jesus did do.
Where are you open to change? Where are you resistant to it?