Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Dec 7 2013 - 3 John – It is well with your soul

In John's third letter, he provides us with cameos of three people in the church to which he is writing. The first is of Gaius, an elder of the church and the one to whom the letter is addressed. He is walking in the truth and gladly offering help and support to Christians who have passed through his town. John commends him for his faithfulness and prays "that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well" (3 John 1:2). John's words here were inspiration for the wonderful hymn:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.

The second cameo is of Diotrephes "who loves to be first." Here is a man who wanted to make the church his own fiefdom and to send packing any who might challenge his own domination. Sadly, there are still many like that today: men – and they generally are men – who have failed to understand the servant model of leadership handed on to us from Jesus Christ; men who love titles and status more than they love the people of God; men who insist that they are in charge and that it is the duty of others to submit to their rule. John names such conduct for what it is – "evil".

Lastly there is Demetrius who, like Gaius, is well spoken of by others. We know nothing more of him, but this is enough. In contrast to Diotrephes, Demetrius clearly loved and served the people of God.

When the disciples were arguing over who should be first, Jesus told them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:25-26). Nor is this simply a command handed down to us by Jesus, it is a model he exemplified in his life; “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:14-17).

What model of leadership are we fostering in our churches? When our model of leadership is based upon patterns of power and control common to this world we seek to be greater than our Master while demonstrating that he is no longer our Lord. He who went to the cross for us calls us to follow him in servant leadership.

Lord Jesus, we delight in you and are filled with wonder at your servant love for us. You went to the cross for us that all might be well with our souls. Help us to follow you and show the same servant love for others: for our brothers and sisters in Christ and for the lost world you came to save.

Peter Misselbrook