The test of fellowship
I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church. 3 John 9-10 NLT
John, from the previous passages commended Gaius for his support for the traveling teachers or missionaries. Now, John expresses how disappointing Diotrephes’ attitude is towards these missionaries. The action of Diotrephes is causing division among believers. He threatens to remove those who will support the traveling teachers. He is also hurling false accusations against John. John looks deep into the motivation for Diotrephes’ actions. He was a man who “loves to be the leader.” Diotrephes wants to put himself first. Diotrephes loved to be the leader and to exercise authority in the church. He wanted to control others, like some people in the church today. This is ambition for leadership, and it is especially problematic with someone who is unqualified to lead! Such attitude is what is causing problems in our churches today. It is problematic when leaders in the church think that they must be served. It is Christ who should be preeminent in the church. “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body” (Colossians 1:18). When Peter addressed his fellow church leaders, he reminded them that their call is to be God’s undershepherds responsible in building up the body of Christ, who is the Great Shepherd. “As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example” (1 Peter 5:1b-3). The Lord Jesus Christ had provided an example on how to shepherd the flock and it will be wise for those who are called to lead to follow His example. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Let us base our fellowship not on personalities but on exalting God, serving Him for His glory. The test of our fellowship should be the person and work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.