In one of the most personal letters in the entire canon of Scripture (3rd John), we read about three men who were influencing the church in one way or another. One was Gaius, the other was Diotrephes and the last was Demetrius. Two of these men, Gaius and Demetrius were good examples of Jesus Christ, while on the other hand, Diotrephes was a bad example of Christ.
As important as it is for us to have good spiritual role models (1 Corinthians 11:1), it is vital for us to realize that only Jesus Christ can provide that Perfect Example for us (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21). While we can and should thank God for those like Gaius and Demetrius whom The Lord brings into our lives, never should we put them or any other saints up on some kind of pedestal, because sooner or later that person is going to let us down. It’s Jesus who died for us (2 Corinthians 5:14,15); it’s Jesus who said, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19), it’s Jesus who said, “learn of Me” (Matthew 11:28-30). We only follow others to the extent that they are following Christ.
It is perfectly understandable why God would place a Gaius or a Demetrius in our lives, but only eternity will be able to explain why God would allow a Diotrephes. One thing that I do know for sure…God uses both good and bad things (Job 2:10) and good and bad people in my life to conform me into the image of His Son (1 Peter 2:18-23). Even The Lord Jesus had His Judas!
If there is a lesson that we need to learn about the Church this side of glory it is this…we are imperfect people (1 John 1:7,8) in an imperfect world (Galatians 1:4), and there is not a single person reading this article who can survive for one second apart from the grace and mercy of God (Lamentations 3:22,23). His grace and mercy are more evident when I am getting blessed by somebody, but somehow, I cannot see His grace and mercy when I am getting ripped to shreds by malicious talk and the unkind actions of others (3 John 9,10). What is the moral of the story? The visible Church of Jesus Christ contains both wheat and tares (Matthew 13:36-43). God will sort out who is who. Until then, we need to learn to deal with the fact that until we get to glory, imperfection will corrupt even the best of us (Romans 7:18) and the best of churches as well (Revelation 2).
Stay close to Jesus Christ (John 15). Walk in humility before Him (Micah 6:8). Be followers of that which is good, and shun everything that is evil. For in the final analysis, it is only you who can determine to live for Jesus and His glory (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). Do not depend on or trust in man (Jeremiah 17:5-8).