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3 John 1: Seeing God

3 John 1 brings us to a very interesting discussion about those who are capable of doing good deeds. In context, John is warning the church about a leader among them who is very self-centered and does not want to welcome fellow leaders into the church. After saying how this is not right, John brings us to a very interesting point.

3Jn 1:11  Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

Immediately, I can see the objections flying for many people. Christians are not the only people who do good things on earth. Is John saying here that for example a Hindu individual cannot perform good deeds? I don’t think so. This verse says that they have seen God. It does not specify that they have a relationship with Him or not. The Pharisees saw Jesus, but they did not have a relationship with Him.

Consequently, as Christians, we also believe that God has made Himself evident in the world. The heavens certainly declare the glory of God, but there are also other things that showed the fingerprints of God if you will. Think about what CS Lewis wrote about the concept of the Tao. There is a sense that all of humanity has shared certain moral teachings around the world and across time. Perhaps God has implanted these ideas in the people that He created. You could say that people who have recognized these universal rules like do not murder have seen God for instance. They might not recognize God, but there have seen Him.

This verse makes more sense in that context. God created the universe, and it was good. Therefore, everything that is good comes from God. Evil comes when there is rebellion against the will of God. It was not created by God. When we do things that are good, we are only capable of doing that because God made those things good. We don’t have to acknowledge them as good or even recognize God, but the simple fact that doing good is possible points towards the existence of God who is all good. Perhaps this is then common ground to speak to our nonbelieving friends. They know that they want to do good things, but they might not have a reason why. We can help fill in the blanks and give a reasonable basis for that belief they hold.