I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face. Peace be with you. Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there.” 3 John 1:13-15 NLT
Just like 2 John, 3 John concludes with John expressing his desire to see the church congregation face to face. Letter writing is one form of personal communication, especially if it is hand written. In those days, of course, that was the case. Sometimes the writer would use a stenographer (someone who takes dictation). Either way, these letters were by hand. In our modern time, instead of hand writing letters, we communicate digitally (text, tweet, email, Facebook, and others). There is something about hand written letters. When we see the strokes of a pen on paper, it speaks something very personal. The person who wrote the letter took the time to put their thoughts on paper. Yes, we can put our thoughts on a screen. However, there is something distinctly different about a personal hand written note. The feeling that the writer actually handled the paper, the greeting chosen, their unique writing style, the closing remark, the signature. There's just something special about that. Even as I compose this devotional, I realize that this is digital. However, I want you to receive this with the personal grace in which it is sent. Often, I have seen people hide behind a screen and vomit their disdain for someone or something. The use of foul language, hateful words, and inflated, boastful comments that make me shake my head in utter frustration and disgust. Some people come across as giants that are ten feet tall and bullet proof behind a screen but shrink down to a timid presence in person. In many cases, the one who spoke all of the things on screen is too cowardly to meet the one they addressed in person. There is something about face to face. In person, we can see gestures, watch eye contact, sense the atmosphere and environment, shake hands, hug necks, etc. John wanted to deal with Diotrephes personally, shake Gaius and Demetrius hands and give them an embrace of brotherly love, and he wanted to share his love with the whole congregation in a personal manner. He wanted to see firsthand how things were going. A church overseer that genuinely cares for his flock will desire to communicate with them, especially face to face. We live in a modern era where we harness the technology of Conference calls, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook, and webcasts to communicate. We use these in business meetings, seminars, crusades, and even church gatherings. Many churches are utilizing the webcast technology to expand their outreach. It's amazing what can be done in our time. I appreciate the technology we have, it is extraordinary. However, I do have one concern, personal touch. As a pastor, my heart yearns to show my personal love for each one of the congregants. I realize that we are a body and we must harness the abilities of each member to operate efficiently and effectively. I know that I am limited in my time just like you but my heart longs to show personal love to people. Jesus cared about people personally. He ventured down into the region of Samaria in John 4 to meet a woman who had been married five times and was living with a man. She needed water, the water that only He could give her. He took the time to go where other Jews wouldn't go. He spoke with people that the Pharisees were too good to speak to. He spoke the truth to men that others were afraid to address. Jesus was very personal. Just like Jesus, just like John, I too look forward to seeing you face to face someday. God's grace to you all, in Jesus name!!
Rev. Curtis Norris