ODJ: loving beyond borders

February 21, 2016 

READ: 3 John 1:1-11 

Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you (v.5).

I first experienced the beauty of the global body of Christ when I traveled from South Africa to Malaysia as a teacher. In that country, with its varying religions and cultural beliefs, I found a spiritual home away from home. From the moment I stepped into the little church down the road, I was warmly welcomed and treated like family. Thousands of kilometers away from where I grew up, I met people with the same spirit and the same love for Jesus.

God places great value on our favorable treatment of believers from outside our local church, and that brings us to Gaius (3 John 1:1-4). This believer had an incredible heart for the greater church. So John commended him for his faithfulness to the truth of the gospel as expressed by his generous care and welcome of traveling teachers (vv.3-6). These men went from city to city, partnering with local churches and teaching them the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ (vv.7-8).

John warned against those who exclude and mistreat believers who come from outside their local church community. Just as we reveal we’re God’s children when we embrace the greater church, so too we can show that we don’t know God when we shun her (v.11). John’s assumption that Gaius was in good spiritual health is also primarily based on the positive report he received from those who were welcomed by him (v.3).

There’s nothing quite like traveling to a different city or country and meeting another believer in Jesus. Although our different traditions and interpretations of Scripture may cause some conflict, God longs for us to simply focus on Him as we welcome each other with joy. That’s loving beyond borders!

—Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

365-day-plan: Numbers 21:4-9

Read Galatians 6:10 and consider what Paul says about how we should treat other members of the body of Christ. 
Have you created an exclusive club within your local church and excluded believers from the outside? Consider how you can make room for other believers and generously welcome them into your heart and your local church.