3 John 9-12
I’ve written a letter to your gathering already, but Dio – that self-promoter – refuses to share it. So, if I come, I’ll bring it up in person. I’ll refute his baseless accusations against us, and point out how not only does he refuse to be hospitable to our friends, but even black-balls anyone else who does. Dear friend, don’t follow his bad example. Do what’s right. Like Demetrius, for example. Everyone loves him. He’s true blue. We vouch for him, too, and you know our word is good.
From early on, welcome and hospitality were one of the defining marks of Christian practice. But early on, the right to say who’s in and who’s out also became a defining part of Christian communities.
Today it’s no different. Lots of churches will tell you that their defining characteristic is how “friendly and welcoming” they are. And in many cases, that welcome and friendliness is still reserved just for insiders, and it’s still easy to find communities in which you’ll never feel really welcome until you have the approval of one or two key people.
While this is typical church behavior, this is another one of those dynamics that isn’t exclusive to church. Social clubs black-ball people all the time, on the basis of all kinds of things: income, race, personal preferences of a few. Businesses, families, little league teams, schoolyards – none of these is exempt.
So, think about what are really the criteria for welcome in your community? Whose approval do you really need to be a part of the in crowd?
What if you, like the writer of this letter were to bring it up in person? Who, like Demetrius, would remain true blue?
Those people are your real friends.