Until We Meet Face to Face

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Last week John provided some harsh instructions to those that might consider entertaining deceivers. Don’t host a false teacher; you would be guilty by association. Stand firm in the truth that you’ve had from the beginning. Don’t be a part of their evil deeds. John now writes the last two verses of this short letter.

2 John 12-13 says, “Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full. The children of your chosen sister greet you.”

John has so much love. He concludes his letter by saying, “I have many things to write to you.” Some things are great to write down, but might be better to say in person. We know for sure that John sure does love these people. He has so much left to give, so much left to offer, so much more to invest in their lives. It’s almost like regret that John finishes writing. John 16:12, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” There was so much in John’s heart. He overflowed with things he wanted to impart on his readers, but just wasn’t able to write them all down. It’s hard for us to imagine John’s position. Today we tend to write in 140 character snippets. The art of letter writing is quickly disappearing. John’s hope is that he would, “Come to you and speak face to face.” Face to face literally means mouth to mouth. In Nu. 12:8, God and Moses spoke mouth to mouth. He wanted to be with them, to talk to them in person, to fellowship with them, to spend time with them. What exactly was on his mind, we don’t know. Was it of a personal or private nature? Was it too secret that he didn’t want this letter to get into the wrong hands? All we know was that he really wanted to see them.

John provides a great example. Even while we don’t know for sure what John had in mind, we know that he wanted to go to wherever these readers were. You can’t say enough about personal interaction. At this point John has written his gospel and the first letter to the church. Why the longing to see these people in person? Letters are great, but they are no substitute for personal interaction. If we jump to modern times, there is still no substitute for personal interaction. Don’t think that a text message does the same thing. Don’t think sending a message through Facebook accomplishes the same thing as spending time with someone. We are a group of people that was designed by God for fellowship. It is through our common belief in the Messiah that gives us the desire to closely associate with one another. It is imperative for us to connect with one another on an intimate level. The church is a place for learning, for training, for encouragement; a place to be challenged, a place to develop meaningful relationships. It seems as though the church has followed the world and become a place of shallow relationships. Other people are kept at a distance not wanting to get involved in one another’s lives. Some will cite their busyness. Some will say that they’ve done their part; it’s time for other people to get involved.  Some people think they don’t need anyone else. When differences or disagreements arise, there isn’t any discussion or working it out. They just get unfriended on Facebook. But we are the family of God. The reason we’re called family is because you cannot change the relationship between family members. Your kids will always be your kids. Your parents will always be your parents no matter what. Your brothers and sisters will always be your brothers and sisters no matter what they do, no matter how unkind or unloving they are. Families work things out. Families are related by blood. The family of God is related by the blood of Christ. Blood is thicker than water. The bonds of family are stronger than any other, but are they stronger than the bond of Christ? Matt. 10:37, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Nothing is as effective in developing relationships as time spent together. A text message can never substitute for a talk. Writing on someone’s wall can never substitute for the type of fellowship God designed for us through Christ.

So why is it so hard? Why do we find it so difficult to let down our guard? John desperately wanted to spend time with these believers and he longed for the time they would see each other face to face. Is that the way it is for us? We have a common bond in Christ. I got to thinking about this bond and I thought back to the days of high school chemistry and later my nuclear power training in the Navy. Atomic bonding is very cool. Water and salt are two examples of compounds that are held together by a covalent bond. That bond keeps them together. You can heat water with fire and it boils. It turns into steam – still H20. The molecule stays together. You can dissolve salt in a glass of water and the salt influences all of the water. The bond keeps these molecules together. Our bond in Christ is much stronger than that. Were there ever any problems among John’s readers that might strain that bond? There were people that said they didn’t have any sin in 1 Jo. 1:8 and 10. There were people that loved the world in 1 Jo. 2:15. They were prone to deception. They didn’t seem to have a handle on Christian love. There seemed to be some people that said one thing and acted in a way that contradicted what they said. Sure there were problems because there were people, but that didn’t negate John’s very strong bond with his readers.

He was eagerly anticipating a time when they could be face to face because his heart was so full and he wanted their, “joy to be made full.” Full means containing as much as can be held, room for no more, having no empty space. Meeting with John would cause these readers to be completely full of joy. The parallel is the same for us. Spending time with other Christians should fill us up, should encourage us, challenge us, bless us, edify us. The reality is that most Christians that are guarded or cautious are guarded and cautious because they were hurt at the hands of another Christian. Let me say that I understand, I get it. Eph. 4:31, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Do you want to strike a blow to Satan’s plan; to his deception, to his lies? Love one another unconditionally. Love your neighbor unconditionally. Hurt can run very deep. God’s love and comfort runs even deeper. In Jer. 51:8b, “Bring balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed.” Gilead in the O.T. is the same place where Jesus cast the demons out of the swine in Luke 8. Jesus really is the only One that can heal.

John wants their, “joy to be made full.” Just like when your loved one has been gone, you want them to come home. John knows that they’ll have a great time of fellowship, of getting to know one another better, a time to enjoy one another’s company. John closes this letter by saying, “The children of your chosen sister greet you.” It’s like saying, “Hey, everyone with me says hey!” “Your chosen sister” likely refers to a sister church. Remember John started this letter by saying, “To the chosen lady and her children.” In other words, all your brothers and sisters in Christ. John wants complete joy for his readers and that of course comes through knowing Jesus as the Messiah. But it’s also fellowship with John and other believers.

No one is called out to be a lone ranger. We were designed for fellowship with Christ and with other believers. It’s time for Christians to put the past behind them and focus on what’s ahead of them. The past is passed. It cannot be changed. Let’s be all that we can be in Christ.

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