2 John 12–13 (NKJV)
12 Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 13 The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen.
Today we bring to a close our series of exhortations on the second epistle of John. John closes his letter with a warm greeting from his own congregation. The children of your elect sister greet you.
In the midst of his conclusion, John writes words that rattle our increasingly depersonalized interaction with one another. John writes, Having many things to write to you… John informs us here that his second epistle isn’t short because he had no more to say – he had many more things he wanted to communicate to them. So why didn’t he include them? …I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
As wonderful as it is to get a letter – John reminds us that it is yet more wonderful to have the person. And John’s awareness of this important distinction was built upon his years of fellowship with God Himself in the Person of our Lord Jesus. As wonderful as the written word of God is and as much as John treasured it, it was in Jesus that the light of the knowledge of God shone. Knowing Jesus enabled John to know the Word of God in its fullness. And so John wanted to speak with these folks, not just correspond with paper and ink.
So what is the equivalent of paper and ink today? Certainly we have stationery, but we have many other communication tools. Email, facebook, twitter, instant messaging, the telephone, even face time – all are substitutes for personal interaction, face to face communication. Many of them are wonderful tools, gifts from God that enable us to communicate with others when we are not face to face. But let us remember that none these things are a true substitute for the personal contact that John desires and that we desire. For it is that personal contact, modeled on the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, that makes our joy full.
One of the dangers of the many new technologies that we possess is that they can subtly separate us from one another by giving us the illusion of face to face contact. And so though they apparently bring us together, they can in actuality separate us further and spread the plague of loneliness. So John reminds us to pursue one another face to face, that our joy may be full.
And as we meditate on these things, let us remember that the origin of separation in our relationships with one another and with God is our own sin. We hid from God lest the light of His countenance reveal our rebellion. So as we come this day into God’s very presence in worship, let us not flee, but let us confess our sins and ask Him to forgive us through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. Let us kneel as we confess together.