Reading through the Bible together
Through the course of any given day, we have the opportunity to greet people – family, friends, work colleagues, those who assist us, and sometimes even those who annoy us. Are our greetings memorable, or hollow?
I love the greeting John enunciates to his dearly loved friend, Gaius: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (v. 2 NIV). What a salutation! What a blessing he pronounces! Some argue that it was John’s way of saying, “I hope you are well and prospering in every way.” From the biased perspective of a physician who is passionate about the Adventist Health Message, which emphasizes the wholeness of body, mind, and spirit, I take courage and also permission as we stress the concept of wholistic wellness.
We can be whole, even though we may be physically broken – “wholeness in brokenness” – through the indwelling, life-changing Spirit of God in our lives. Total health matters.
John affirms Gaius for his faithfulness and caring approach to all, including strangers. As in 2nd John, he rejoices over his “parishioners” (or converts), who continue in their relationship with Jesus. This pastoral caring is a virtue that we should emulate in the household of faith, nurturing, caring, and sharing. At the same time, John warns against the divisive behavior of Diotrophes, promising to follow up on his next visit (not just a criticism, but comments that will be corroborated and acted upon!). He then encourages us to imitate those who follow our Divine Example, and then cites Demetrius.
Just as he did in his prior letter, he leaves much unsaid, preferring to speak face-to-face on some issues in particular – but, I suspect (like me, if I may add), preferring to speak face-to-face in general. As we talk, text, write, tweet, and perhaps especially communicate by our body language, may we emulate the heart, mind, and instructions of Jesus.
Oh yes – and let’s make our greetings positive, edifying, and memorable.
Peter Landless, Director, GC Department of Health Ministries