Face to Face
Sometimes profound truths are tucked away in obscure and neglected places. That is certainly the case with what we see in 2 John 12. My guess is that many of you have never bothered to read 2 and 3 John, perhaps thinking that epistles so short could hardly say much of value. Oh, how wrong you would be!
As we prepare to regather on June 7 as the family of God at Bridgeway here in Oklahoma City, I want to draw your attention to something the apostle John said at the close of his second epistle. The subheading in my Bible says, “Final Greetings.” That in itself would lead many to think that they can stop reading. After all, what possible spiritual value is there for me in greetings that John sent to a group of Christians in the first century? The answer is, plenty. Here is what John wrote:
“Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12).
It’s really quite remarkable how obscure texts such as this are so relevant and directly applicable to us today. John obviously loved these people to whom he writes. He cares deeply for them. Up until now, however, he has only been able to interact with them by means of “paper and ink.” As wonderful as this means of communication may be, it falls immeasurably short of talking “face to face.” His joy, to this point in time, is real, but remains stunted and unfulfilling until such time as John can be physically present with these believers and see their faces and look them in the eye.
Allow me to draw a straight line from the first century to ours. John’s “paper and ink” were the ancient equivalent to our Skype, Zoom, and livestream sermons. I have thanked God over and over these past few months that I was able to communicate the life-giving, Christ-exalting truths of God’s Word by means of the internet. I’m grateful for Zoom, by which our staff has continued to “meet” and conduct ministry business. But I concur with John. My joy is incomplete. It’s there. It’s real. But it cries out for consummation, and that will only come when I stand in the physical presence of the people at Bridgeway and speak to them “face to face.”
Although nothing is said to this effect in 2 John, I have to believe that when the people to whom this epistle was written read these words, they too cried aloud: “Oh, that we might see you, John, and look into your eyes, and hear your words of life and encouragement that God has placed on your heart for us.” My prayer, as we look forward to June 7, is that we all would echo this sentiment. I won’t pretend to speak for anyone, but only for myself, and I will say with heartfelt sincerity:
“Though I have much to say to you, I would rather not use the internet or YouTube. Instead I long to be in your physical presence and talk to you face to face, so that your joy and mine may be complete” (2 John 12).