Five years ago, I wrote a post called “We will talk face to face.” Today, long distance communication is almost expected: phone, email, video chat, text, etc. When the New Testament was written, long distance communication was also prevalent, typically in the form of letters. In fact, most, if not all, of the New Testament was originally long distance communications. However, as I examined in this post, the authors understood that face-to-face communication was still very important. It’s just as important today.
I was reading 3 John again a few nights ago. I stopped at the end when I read these sentences:
I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. (3 John 1:13-14 ESV)
John loves the people that he’s writing. In fact, he loves them so much that he prefers to see them “face to face” instead of simply writing to them. Now, John is known as “the beloved disciple”, but he says some things in this short letter that are not very pleasant to say. For instance, he calls out Diotrophes for loving to be in a preeminent position and for not taking care of brothers and sisters who are traveling through his area. Do you think John would even prefer to talk about this face to face?
You see, I love to encourage people face to face. I love to thank people and praise them face to face. But, I don’t like to admonish or chastise people face to face. I don’t like confrontation, but sometimes confrontation is necessary, and it seems best to confront someone face to face.
A few days ago, as I was preparing this post, my friend Lew (at “The Pursuit“) told me of an encounter that he had this week. Last Sunday, Lew was concerned that one brother had hurt another. Instead of sending an email or making a phone call, Lew made arrangements to meet with this brother face to face. When Lew told me about this, he did not know that I was working on this post. His example was a great encouragement and challenge to me.
True community requires that we willingly speak with love to people within the community – both pleasant things and unpleasant things. If we are brothers and sisters – part of the same family – then shouldn’t we want to speak face to face with them, even things that may not be pleasant?
Here’s the thing… I know what I need to do, but I honestly can’t say that I will talk with someone face to face about unpleasant things. I know that is what I need to do – that is what I want to do. But will I be obedient to what the Spirit calls me to do?
So, what am I going to do the next time that I need to confront someone? What am I going to do the next time that I think someone may have hurt another brother or sister? What am I going to do the next time I say something that someone may not want to hear?
I wish I could say that I will be like John (and Paul – 1 Cor 11:34), and look forward to speaking with that brother or sister face to face. On my own, I will probably not do it. Thank God, I am not own my own. I pray that God will make me into the person that He wants me to be, even in this area.