John begins this passage of scripture reminding us of the importance of walking in the truth and the importance of loving one another. John even states in verse 5 that he knows this is not a new commandment... he knows we have heard these words in the past. John knows, however, the importance behind following these commandments. They are worthy of repeating. Over and over.
The only way to abide in God is to walk in the truth. And not just a step or two here and there. But a full out straight path of truth. No crooked roads. Only the straight and narrow. The straight and narrow truth that can only be found in God.
Loving one another, and in turn, showing the love of God. This is how we show the world that we walk with God. This is how we show our obedience to God.
John goes on to tell us that while we walk in the truth, while we show our love for one another, we must not forget to always be on the lookout for false teachers. We know we must always be aware of false teachers in the world we live in today. And, John knew the same to be true of the world as it was during his time here on earth. They were everywhere. And John tells us we should not receive them into our homes or to greet them.
Now, some will interpret this to mean that we should not associate ourselves in any way with non-believers. From my study of this scripture and from where I feel the Lord speaking to me, though, I think we need to be around non-believers. For one, how can we show non-believers the love of God if we are not associating with them? How can we expect them to attend our churches when we say we cannot be around them (or them around us)?
Secondly, I think to really understand John's words, we need to look back into the customs of that day. It was very common for teachers and missionaries as they traveled to stay in the homes of the townspeople. They would simply knock on the door and ask if they could come in and spend the night. These teachers and missionaries could be persons that taught the truths of Jesus Christ or they could be teaching false doctrines. In looking at these customs and reading John's words, it is likely that John was speaking primarily about offering hospitality to those that TAUGHT false doctrines. After all, there is a difference between believing a false doctrine and further perpetuating or teaching others a false doctrine.
This is not to say we shouldn't be careful when we are with persons that believe false doctrines. However, we should be kind to them, we should speak with them, we should share God's love with them. We should also welcome them into our churches. After all, how else will we be able to fully share with them the love of Christ?
I know this can be a touchy subject. And, I also know that we all must approach it in the way we feel led to by the Lord. We are taught that there is a big difference between being IN the world and being OF the world. We can't hide under a rock and keep all of God's love to ourselves. We can't hide in our church buildings never allowing non-believers to walk thru the door... no matter the sinful lifestyle they may be living.
I challenge you today to find your place in sharing God's love... regardless of the type of lifestyles you may encounter. Yes, be wary and yes, reject those false teachings and those that perpetuate those teachings. But, at the same time welcome non-believers with open arms. Show them the wonders of God's grace and mercy by sharing how God rescued you. Show them Christ's love by loving them.