Like me, Kathleen sees the benefit in “long distance” communication, like through letters, phone calls, even Facebook and Twitter. But, these cannot take the place of “face-to-face” communication. It seems that John recognized this also. (See 3 John 1:13-14.)
While there are several great parts of Kathleen’s post, I want to point out this paragraph in particular:
The world is desperate for true community. God’s solution is the church. Jesus commands us to love one another – he says this is how people will know that we are his followers. But how can we get to know each other and minister to one another’s needs if we don’t get to talk to each other or even make eye contact? How can we encourage each other, teach each other, and spur one another on to love and good deeds, if we can’t even see each other?
I’ll take this a step further. It’s difficult to comfort someone from a distance.
Last week, someone who is very close to me needed comforting. Unfortunately, she’s about 600 miles away. I could talk to her on the phone, and I could text her. I could pray for her and encourage her as much as I could from a distance. But, I could not sit with her face-to-face. I could not hug her.
There’s a difference. Yes, at times (such as this time for me), we cannot meet with someone face-to-face. But, that should be our goal whenever possible.
God willing, I’ll get to comfort her face-to-face later this week. But, for many believers, there’s rarely an opportunity for face-to-face fellowship of any kind. Why? Because the church tends to focus on one gathering, and that gathering offers very little opportunity for fellowship.
Yes, it’s possible for believers to fellowship at other times, but shouldn’t any church gathering be the normal time for us teaching one another, encourage one another, serve one another, and, yes, even comfort one another?