I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. (2 John 1:12)
You may recognize these thoughts from our study of 3rd John. There we read: “I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.Peace to you.” (3 John 1:13-14)
It is no surprise that we see this similarity. In fact, most of us tend to conclude our remarks in letters and e-mails with familiar sentiments. I think this is one of the ways we authenticate our communication. Our concluding remarks become somewhat of a signature, along with our name.
But there is one new thought in this morning’s passage. John wants to talk “face to face” that “our joy may be complete.”
Is it a reference to the joy the Apostle John and the “chosen lady” would have sharing their faith with one another in person, the joy John’s associates would also have as they travelled with him, or even the joy the church in Ephesus would experience upon John’s return with a good report?
I personally believe John is merely pointing out what we all know: there is nothing quite the same as “being there”. I find it intriguing this is still true in our culture.
When our last child left home, I couldn’t wait to buy a computer with a webcam. The prospect of being able to see them as I talked with them was irresistible. One was thousands of miles away in England and the other hundreds of miles away in Ohio. It isn’t as though I was completely out of touch. We had e-mail, and cheap cell phone connections. But being able to see them…now that was something!
And they enjoyed it too!
For a while….
Do you know what it’s like having a parent stalk you? Actually, we enjoyed our webcam conversations, but the truth is, most of us have lives of our own, and just because we find a convenient time to sit in front of a computer and talk through a camera doesn’t mean the timing is the best for the person on the other end.
So after a while, the webcam conversations grew fewer and fewer, and we saved our “face to face” conversations for the time when we were together in person. Then, we all knew we were there to be physically close…to hold hands while we prayed…to hug…to sit next to them.
Webcams, e-mail and cell phones are still great inventions, and I am really glad we are able to stay in contact with our kids through them. But when we are actually together, the things we share aren’t confined to a computer. After all, “complete joy” is bigger than a 17” screen.
Dear God, thank You for the opportunities we have to see loved ones “face to face.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.