Summary: In the characters of III John, Gaius, Demetrius, and Diotrephes, we learn how to bond and we discover what kills relationships. Designed for "punctuation" by organ music between the sections.
We really need to connect. We are made for fellowship, and
if we do not connect with one another, we will dry up and die.
We need to connect with God; and we need to connect with
When I was the Baptist chaplain at Howard University, it
seemed that my students only knew two hymns. Every time
we met, they wanted to sing either, “What a fellowship, what
a joy divine” or “What a friend we have in Jesus”. I
concluded that these were their choices because, as young
people, most of them away from home for the first time, they
needed to connect. They knew, down deep, that they were
made for fellowship, and that if they did not find fellowship,
they would dry up and die. So they sang about connecting
with one another and with God.
We really do need to connect. And yet we do not know how
to do it. We do not know how to bond with one another in a
healthy way. Over and over again we hurt one another and
hurt ourselves. I’ve seen people who do not know how to
form healthy relationships go into hibernation, staying off to
themselves, obsessing on Internet surfing or television
watching. Just do not know how to connect.
Or worse, I’ve seen people who did not know how to create
healthy relationships go into explosions of hostility, lashing
out at everyone. For some hurting souls, nobody is any
good, nobody is right, nobody is up to par, everybody is out
to do them harm. Some folks see demons in every closet.
And in that deep-rooted hostility there is the potential for
great harm to themselves and to others.
We really do need to connect. We are made for fellowship,
and if we do not connect with one another, we will dry up and
die. We need to connect with God; and we need to connect
with one another.
In the most personal of his three letters, John shows us the
elements of bonding. He teaches us how people can truly
connect with one another, and at the same time points out
how we can so easily kill relationships. If you want to
connect with others, or if you want to see what will destroy a
connection, look at the little third letter of John.
I’ve called this message two “weddings” and a “funeral”, with
apologies, to the movie called, “Four Weddings and a
Funeral”. In that movie, Charlie, played by Hugh Grant,
spends his days trotting off to huge weddings. But the notion
that he might get married never crosses his mind. He never
commits o anyone. At several wedding Charlie repeatedly
sees Carrie, played by Andie MacDowell. The two of them
flirt, they romance, they do everything except declare their
true feelings. They do everything except make a
commitment. But there comes a bit of over-indulgence at
one of the weddings, and one of Charlie’s friends dies. He
has to stop going to weddings for a while and go to a funeral.
Then and only then Charlie begins to think quite differently
about connections and commitment.
“Four Weddings and a Funeral”. Well, the third letter of John
does it in only two weddings and a funeral. Not literally, of
course, but two descriptions of people who know how to
connect and commit; and one picture of someone who does
nothing but kill the bonds of love. Two weddings and a
Let’s go to the first wedding – Maestro, a little Wagner, if you
We need to connect with one another, and we can do it if we
learn how to be open-hearted. Connecting is, first of all, a
matter of faith. It is an issue of trust. If we meet others on
an open-hearted basis, we’ll be on the way to establishing
John addresses his letter to a person named Gaius. We
know very little about Gaius, although I am going to make
some educated guesses in a moment. For now, however,
look at how John speaks to Gaius, and how John recognizes
this open-hearted quality in Gaius:
Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even
though they are strangers to you ...
“You do ... whatever you do for the friends, even though they
are strangers.” Isn’t that an interesting contrast? They are
friends, but they are strangers. Gaius, you do what you do
for these folks, and you do not even know them, but you trust
them anyway. You are an open-hearted person. You
assume the best about them. You do not assume that they
are criminals or that they are out to get you. You assume
that they are friends, even though they are strangers.
Gaius is that wonderful sort of person who trusts others until