here is something remarkably profound within the little epistle of Third John. One of just four letters not marked by chapter breaks, it’s short yet wonderfully intimate. In it, the last remaining apostle reveals deep affection for his treasured friends in the gospel. I have no greater joy, he says, than to hear of my children walking in the truth (3 John 1:4).
The letters of Paul contain a similar sentiment.
When Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, he encouraged them with assurances of Christ’s return and information about what to expect. Then he said, Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11). The Greek word for an encourager is paraklétos, which means one who is called alongside. And that’s exactly what we are to do for one another—come alongside to help.
In a way, John and Paul were multi-site church leaders before there was such a thing. Yet they conducted themselves not as elevated personalities but as embedded ministers and friends. Read how imploringly they wrote, and it becomes clear they felt deeply burdened by the church’s troubles and personally invested in finding solutions. And though there were multitudes of people coming to faith, John was able to write, “Greet the friends by name” (3 John 1:15).
There is a great satisfaction in serving the Lord alongside leaders who not only articulate these things from a platform but also put them into practice. However, it’s not up to the ordained and ministry leaders alone. Building one another up is the task of every member of the church community. If John desired for each one to be greeted by name, we must first know everyone’s name. It may seem simplistic, but it’s the very best place to start. How frequently are we stalled from advancing true community because we’ve glossed over the first steps? Too often we wait for someone else to make a move. But Jesus made the first move with us.
John and Paul were multi-site church leaders before there was such a thing. Yet they conducted themselves not as elevated personalities but as embedded ministers and friends.
When hearts are full of gratitude, our relationships can model Christ as we become well known to each other, sharing our needs and committing to compassionate action. We can do so confidently, knowing the Spirit will gladly unleash this godly affection within us as we ask Him for strength.