A THEOLOGY OF THE BODY
Lord, thank You for good physical and spiritual health.
Read 3 JOHN
1 The elder,
To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2 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. 3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters,[a] even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.
9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.
13 I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.
a 3 John 1:5 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Self-control is not needed because the body is evil –the truth is just the opposite. The body should be controlled with honor because it is worthy of honor” (Pope John Paul II, 1920–2005).
3 John contains a theme similar to 2 John. It is an encouragement to show hospitality to John’s ministerial associates. It also mentions specific people – it is written to John’s “dear friend” Gaius (1), commends Demetrius, and indirectly warns about a problematic leader named Diotrephes. It is somewhat reassuring that the earliest churches dealt with many of the issues we face today. John’s description of Diotrephes is of a church leader with the attitude of a dictator in the church, even to the point of excluding people from the church’s fellowship. John aims to curb this person’s negative influence, and if necessary, oppose him in person.
John’s prayer for Gaius is important – “I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, just as you are progressing spiritually” (2). This is the opposite of the Gnostic heresy John has been combating throughout these letters, which taught the total separation of the spiritual and the material and labeled the physical side of life as evil. It is significant that John here is concerned for Gaius’ holistic flourishing, both his physical and his spiritual well-being.
This sort of Gnostic mindset can lead to either the total neglect of the body and physical health, or to the indulgence of the body’s sensual desires. Either extreme is destructive: we can recognize both in our society today. This Johannine prayer is a balanced reminder that God is interested in both your body and your soul –and actually they shouldn’t be separated. God’s desire is that you should neither neglect nor indulge yourself, but that you should care for your physical needs and discipline your body in order to maximize your usefulness for his service.
Are you caring for your body? For some of us, it may be the most spiritual thing we can do: to look after our well-being, body,soul and spirit.
Lord, make me more of a team player. Help me channel my efforts toward the good of the Christian community as a whole.