“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28

 

A couple of Sundays ago the sermon at my church was from 3 John. It brought back painful memories – memories of things that happened not so long ago. I couldn’t hold back the tears.

The apostle John, author of this letter wrote the following to Gaius, a member of a church he would be visiting:

“I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.” (vs 9-10)

Diotrephes is shown as someone “who loves to be first” – power-hungry and seeking to exalt himself. The Bible refers to his kind of pride as the greatest sin of all. Quoting C.S. Lewis: “Pride is the sin that made the devil the devil.”

Although Diotrephes wasn’t referred to as a false teacher, narcissism like his often does include a tendency to hypocrisy and deceit. Unfortunately such character is frequently present in church leadership, even today. Churches with such a leader, are in the pocket of a powerful man.

As we near Easter time, it would be good to remember how God’s cause has been affected by those who seek power and fame in the name of religion. In Christ’s time it was Caiaphas who organized the plot to kill him. But even today there are those who are willing to crucify Christ to keep their position of power.

How do people like Diotrephes crucify those of us who want to spread God’s message?

  • Using “malicious gossip” to speak harshly and critically of godly workers.
  • Not allowing rivals. Not listening to the teaching of others. Not allowing others to lead.
  • Using intimidation to control people. Diotrephes put anyone who questioned him “out of the church.”

In his love for power he rejected fellow believers and threatened to hinder the truth.

Such a religious bully will destroy the church. He’s been known to destroy individuals. Only servants are meant to lead. Not the likes of Diotrephes.

marja