Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. (2 John 1:11)
The Apostle John is definitely trying to shut down the work of false teachers operating in the region where the “chosen lady” serves. Then he goes beyond merely discouraging hospitality to outright condemnation.
As we saw yesterday, nothing is as dangerous to the Lord’s church as selfishly motivated false teaching. And while the church is to be a place of grace, and love is to be shared regardless of one’s past, false teaching falls into a category all its own. All sin should be confronted in love, but the process of repentance for a false teacher must, by necessity, come quickly. Otherwise, the whole family of God can be corrupted by his influence.
But why are those who “welcome him” labeled wicked by association?
Why is anyone who knowingly aids a wicked person guilty by association? Is the driver of a get-away car guilty, as is the bank robber? Is the landlord who allows criminal activity to take place at his property, while receiving rent money contributing to the wrong? And is a doctor who supplies a patient with illegal drugs to support his addiction at fault when his patient dies of an overdose?
In courts of law, and with sufficient proof, yes…yes…yes.
Therefore we should not be surprised to find the Apostle John implicating those who willingly provide safe harbor for those who teach false doctrine about Jesus.
Maybe I should back up a little and toss in a word of perspective. There are lots of theological positions people have that don’t rise to the level of false doctrine, even when they come into conflict with other opinions. While there is ultimately one right answer to biblical questions, when we don’t have the whole story, we can’t determine those answers with certainty. So don’t start chasing people away from your church just because they disagree with you!
For example, when it comes to how events will play out at the end of time, we simply don’t have enough information to know every detail with certainty. This means people can agree to disagree on theories that can’t be proven until that day. But the fact that Jesus is coming back, and that He will hold us accountable for our response to the gospel, is non-negotiable. Other non-negotiable doctrines include Jesus’ nature as the eternal Son of God, His full covering of our sins on the cross, and His resurrection.
This is why the specific teaching of Gnostics that the Son of God had not come in human flesh was worthy of condemnation. It struck at the very heart of the gospel and offered no room for compromise.
I think there are still many opportunities to show grace to false teachers, and certainly to correct people in love who may be quite innocent in their error. But when it comes to the rudimentary teachings of Christ there isn’t much wiggle room: none in fact.
This is indeed a hard saying. And one I have struggled with more than once.
Dear God, help me figure out the balance between grace and the preservation of pure doctrine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.