So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. 3 John 1:10
I can’t imagine how difficult it was to confront me in my addiction. I would love to be able to tell you that once I realized I had a problem, I made the difficult choice to get help. That’s not how it happened though. My dark secret, the one which I desperately tried to keep hidden, came to light and my superiors at the hospital had to deal with it. For the health of the organization and for the protection of patients, once they knew I had a problem, they couldn’t avoid it. I was less than cooperative at first and I’m sure it had to be absolutely miserable to approach me about my drug addiction, but it had to be done. There was simply no getting around this problem. It had to be faced, head-on.
Like most of you, I prefer to avoid confrontation if I can. This is my personality, but as a Christian, I’m also tempted to use my faith as an excuse to avoid conflict. I’m supposed to love my enemies and turn the other cheek, so I may erroneously interpret those commands to mean that I must always be meek and nonconfrontational.
In today’s passage though, John described a situation in which it was going to be necessary to confront an individual leader in his audience’ church. In the passage, he described the behavior of Diotrephes, who loved only himself and talked wicked nonsense. John said that when he came to visit the church, he was going to have to address this problematic behavior. John could have brushed it under the rug, or he could have dealt with Diotrephes quietly, but for the health of the church, he had to openly confront an unhealthy situation.
Just as John saw himself as responsible for the health of the church, we’re often at least partially responsible for the health of those around us. Whether it’s simply within our own family, or in our church or occupation, we will have occasions in which someone is engaging in behavior that is destructive to those around them. When people struggle and fail, they rarely fail in a vacuum. Self-destructive behavior usually spills over into the lives of everyone in proximity. When this happens, it may well be necessary for us to put aside our dislike of confrontation and address the problem that is making everyone sick. We may dislike confrontation, but sometimes avoiding it is the sick, sinful behavior.