Summary: There is no one kind of personality that is the best to serve God but as we learn from Apostle John balancing the truth with love goes a long ways towards being effective in our witness of Jesus!
John: The Apostle of Love
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
Ever wonder what kind of personality is best to have to serve God in His kingdom? While those who have a passionate, zealous and ambitious personality have the drive to “push” others to obey God’s commands and accomplish His goals, in their aggression they are often too legalistic, reckless, volatile and brash to be effective in God’s kingdom. While those who mourn with those who mourn, bless and pray for those who persecute them and practice hospitality towards all people in the church (regardless of position) certainly fulfills the command to love one another; without passion for the truth such people often promote the “social club” atmosphere of a church that is either lukewarm and/or full of heresy! Is it possible to develop a personality that has a balance of both passion for the truth and love and grace for all others? Apostle John certainly did! This sermon is going to begin by describing the background and leadership style of John and finish with how John balanced truth with love, ambition with humility and suffering with glory and in doing so became known not only as one of the “Sons of Thunder” but also the “Disciple Jesus Loved.”
John’s family lived close to Bethsaida where he and his brother James had a fishing business (Mark 1:21, 29), with Andrew and Peter as likely partners (Luke 5:10). John’s father’s name was Zebedee (Matthew 4:21, Mark 1:19-20) and most likely his mother’s name was Salome (Matthew 27:56). Because Zebedee had hired servants and Salome often cared for the needs of Jesus (Mark 15:40, Matthew 27:55-56), John most likely grew up in a relatively prosperous middle class home. His father Zebedee was not only well to do but also had enough status that John was “was known to the high priest.” Walking beside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus called John and James who immediately left the boat and the fishing business (Matthew 4:18-22). John is always listed in the top three names of the apostles, along with Peter and his brother James (Matthew 10:2-4; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:13-14) who were part of Jesus’ inner circle. According to tradition John was banished to the island of Patmos, wrote the book of Revelation and then returned to Ephesus where according to Eusebius, Tertullian, Polycrates and Jerome he ended up dying at an old age and of natural causes. Even though historical criticism suggests John did not write any books of the Bible, early church tradition has John as the author of John, first, second and third John and the book of Revelation.
Upon the start of their ministry John and James had similar personality traits and leadership styles. Like James, John was part of Jesus’ inner circle of three who alone got to accompany Jesus in the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), to witness the transfiguration of Christ (Mark 9:2; Matthew 17:1; Luke 9:28) and to accompany Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). Also, like James who was often brash, clumsy, hasty and impulsive; John could be described with similar traits such as “narrow-minded, unbending, reckless and passionate.” John was so passionate that Jesus gave him and his brother James the title of “Boanerges” (Mark 3:17) which meant “Sons of Thunder.” For having asked Jesus to kill the people of a Samaritan village, for having sought a position of authority over the other disciples and for having rebuked a man for casting out demons in Jesus’ name, John demonstrated the dangers of having “unbridled” passion without grace! And yet by allowing the Lord’s strength to be made perfect in these weaknesses, later in life John learned to balance truth with love, ambition with humility and suffering with glory and as a result ended up personifying his title “The Disciple Jesus Loved!”
Balancing Truth with Love
7 I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. 11 Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.
In his letter to the church of the Johannine community, John showed how passionate he was to proclaim and protect the truth concerning the incarnate Jesus and His teachings. Anyone who “advanced” beyond the limits of Christ’s teachings according to John were not to be even welcomed in a person’s home for to do such an act would be paramount to sharing in the work of deceivers and antichrists! From this passage we learn that John wrote and thought in absolutes as can be seen elsewhere in his writings. Those who do not walk in the light, walk in the darkness and have no fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-7). Only those who believe in Jesus (John 3:18) are born of the Spirit (John 3:5-6), declared children of God (John 1:12) and receive eternal life (John 3:36). Only those who do not sin (1 John 3:9), love others (1 John 4:7-8), forgive others (John 20:23) and have evidence of fruitfulness in their lives (John 15) can claim they have passed from death to life (John 5:24). While those who refuse to refuse to hear and obey His commands do not love Jesus (John 14:23-24); those who hate a brother or sister (1 John 2:9-11) and love this world (1 John 2:15) belong to the Devil (John 8:44) and stand condemned (John 16:11) to be thrown into the fire and burned (John 15:6).