Monday, March 20, 2017
I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete. 2 John 12(NLT)
John, the beloved apostle, writes to people he knows, but hasn’t seen lately. He wants them to know how much he cares, but caring can only go so far in-absentia. He wants to see them face-to-face. John wants to look in their eyes, take-in their body language, and hear the inflection in their speech.
He writes of joy being “complete”. He certainly doesn’t mean that joy will come to an end. Rather John uses a word that suggests fullness, as in a hollow space filled with something[ii]. It’s the picture of a fishing net, stuffed full like you’ve never seen it before. John is talking about joy overflowing. He knows pen and ink are not up to that task; for that kind of joy you need embraces, eyeball-to-eyeball sincerity and the kiss of friendship up close and personal!
Now, I don’t miss the irony of what I have just written; this page can only be read, and my voice you hear over the internet is disembodied. We are not face-to-face – at least physically!
You feel that void in many instances. If you have a child away at school you can’t wait for spring break until he’s home. A loved family member or close neighbor who has moved across the country keeps “Ma Bell” in business with long distance charges.
There is one place, however, where the lack of John’s face-to-face is alleviated, and that is the connection in Christ. I was talking with a friend yesterday about the connectional nature of the United Methodist Church compared to some other models of denominational life. I see the value of extra steps Bishops and District Superintendents take in this system to ensure the face-to-face support clergy receive, and can offer. It is also offered to laity. I won’t go so far as to say we do it better than anyone, but it is better than what I have experienced in other settings.
All of that to say John knew what he was talking about when he expressed the desire to put down his pen and go see his people face-to-face; there’s no substitute for the presence of Christ drawing followers of Christ into the joy of Christ! And, some day, we will be in his presence entirely…face-to-face!
Can’t talk more now…got to go see some folks…face-to-face!
Title image: By Mikhail Gorbunov, via Wikimedia Commons
[ii] Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, Third ed., © 2003