Monday, October 1, 2012

3 John: Opposition to Fundraising

In the previous post we looked at what the short book of 3 John teaches us about the validity of fundraising from verses 5-8.  But as you've probably noticed during your own fundraising experience, not everyone is excited to send and support missionaries as John had advised Gaius.  John knew this too, so he wrote about a source of opposition to fundraising in verses 9-11.
[9] I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. [10] So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. [11] Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:9-11 ESV)
After John is done encouraging Gaius in how he ought to treat the visiting missionaries, he turns his attention to a troublesome character named Diotrephes.  John gives Gaius his assessment of Diotrephes' character: Diotrephes likes to put himself first (9) and he does not acknowledge apostolic (Biblical) authority (9).  He talks "wicked nonsense" against John and others (10).  Moreover, not only does he refuse to welcome the missionary brothers, but he also stops others from doing so, even excommunicating them (10).  Finally, John observes that even though Diotrephes is a church leader with the power to excommunicate others, he "has not seen God" and is therefore not a Christian at all (10).

This is an important example to us even many years later, for men like Diotrephes still infect many churches.  We would do well to recognize that they exist and not be shaken when we discover them during our fundraising.  Here are some things we can expect based on John's letter to Gaius:
  • Some (even leaders) will refuse to welcome us (10)
  • They will refuse to do so on unbiblical grounds (9)
  • Some will not welcome us based on pressure from leadership, even if they want to (10)
  • We should not let these situations harden us against other believers, because those doing these things may not be believers at all (11)!
Now, this is a blog about fundraising, the gospel and Biblical encouragement.  It might seem that we're coming up short on those latter two in this post!  But let us not forget the nature of the gospel and how the Scriptures portray service to Christ - it is often not easy and we are often not welcomed.  Consider these words of Christ from John 15:
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'
'But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning." (John 15:18-27 ESV)
Jesus reminds us that part of being associated with Him, part of doing His work, is being hated by those who hated Him.

And yet - here's the encouragement part - Jesus says He sent us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, who has filled us with the power of God Himself.  It is because of Him that we are enabled to do the very work that we are fundraising in order to do.  And - here's the gospel part - remember that we too were once part of that world that so hated Christ.  But by the power of the same Holy Spirit, by the blood of the same Savior, by the faithful work of others who had been brought from death to life, we were rescued.

So, if there's hope for you and me, there is even hope for men like Diotrephes.  But someone's got to reach them.  And that's why you endure this time of fundraising.  That's what God has called you to do.  So go pick up that phone. Go on that trip.  Raise those funds.

The world is waiting for you.