Scripture: 2 John 9, ‘Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.’
Observations: John’s second letter is not only extremely short, it also is very similar to his first letter, being concerned with the truth (v1-4) and loving one another (v5-6). But the main point of this letter are those who twist the truth, people who are deceivers and antichrist (v7). John warns the reader to be careful that they don’t lose what they have worked for (v8), but that they ‘continue in the teaching of Christ… for whoever continues in the teaching of Christ has both the Father and the Son.’ It’s this idea of continuing in the faith that concerns John. It’s the same word that Jesus uses when he tells us to ‘remain in me. (Jn 15:4)’ The opposite of remaining in Jesus is ‘running ahead.’ Instead of staying with Jesus and what Jesus taught many people go beyond what he taught. In this sense John is against progress. He wants us to progress in our faith, but not go beyond what Jesus taught. We are to run the race of faith, but we need to make sure we’re running on the right track and in the right direction.
Application: Progress is one of the values of our society. We all want to feel like we are moving forward, getting smarter, healthier, wealthier, and life in general easier. And while there’s nothing wrong with progress, we need to be careful we don’t apply it to what we believe. God has revealed the truth in Scripture, everything that we need to know to be saved. Our task is to grow in the knowledge of the truth, but not to go beyond it. We can be progressive in how we communicate the truth, but we can’t be progressive with the truth. God doesn’t change like shifting shadows (Jam 1:17) and neither does the truth. Are you continuing in the teaching of Christ?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help me see when people have gone beyond the truth and run into error, and help me remain in the truth. Help me run the race, but also help me to run as you have directed, that I might not run ahead of how You have called me to live. Lord, I want to continue following Jesus and the things he has taught, so fill me with Your Spirit. Protect me from the Evil One and from temptation. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.