2 John 1:1-2 “The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth–and not I only, but also all who know the truth–because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever.”
Our Lord often refers to his church on earth in feminine terms. At various times in the Old Testament God described his people as a virgin, a married woman, a mother, and even a widow. Jesus calls himself our bridegroom and his church the bride. Paul picks up this same picture. It seems that John is using a similar way of speaking here.
The term he uses, lady, doesn’t emphasize the special relationship with God. It emphasizes the relationship the church as a whole has with its individual members, whom John calls “her children.” In John’s day, “lady” wasn’t just a polite term of respect. It was a way of referring to the leading woman of the household, the one who wielded some authority in the family. The “lord” of the house was the man in charge. The “lady” was the woman in charge.
How did this humble, motley gathering of outcasts and misfits, simple people with perennial faults, wind up with such a title, “lady”? From God’s point of view she is the “chosen” lady. This is the group, these are the people, that he set his heart on for reasons that are all his own. It’s not because we, the members of the church, had some special spiritual beauty that made us attractive. God chose his church anyway. And having chosen her he called her to faith, washed her in Jesus’ blood, and clothed her in Jesus’ love. He made her the chosen lady as a matter of his grace and love.
The “Lord” is not the only one who loves “the chosen lady and her children.” John says of her, “…whom I love in the truth–and not I only, but also all who know the truth–because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us.” John regards the church with love. So does everyone else who knows the truth, and they all do this because of the truth. To be honest, the church as a whole hasn’t always given us reason to love it. Money scandals and sex scandals have shown her uglier side. They have filled a lot of people with disgust. On a personal level, maybe you have been a victim of church cliques or politics. How can we love an organization with faults like that?
Don’t forget this truth: the church isn’t a cold, faceless corporation. It is a body of people just like us. It’s the body that includes each of us. Our faults, my faults, are part of the church’s problem. The truth teaches us that God doesn’t treat people the way they deserve. He always treats us better. Forgiveness is the key to his love for us, and it will be the key to our love for the people he has gathered as his “chosen lady.”
Godly love, Christian love, is not a response to beauty or kindness or talent. It is a choice we make, a gift we bestow, on the object of our love. This love is the way things operate in God’s family, the chosen lady and her children. God’s love determined how we are regarded by him. It is the reason behind our own regard for God’s people, our love for the others who belong to this body.