Exhortation – 15th Sunday After Trinity (2006)

2 John 12 – “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”

As we will hear in the sermon, John is writing to the “elect lady.” John has much to say, but he would rather say it face to face. He could write his thoughts on paper, but he’d rather have personal fellowship with the this “elect lady.” Since all of Scripture is inspired by God and “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), we can draw instruction even from these seemingly unimportant closing remarks.

My exhortation to you is to not substitute anything for face to face fellowship. Don’t substitute blogs, e-mail, phone conversations for talking face to face with a real flesh-and-blood brother or sister.

Our culture is overloaded with information and information technologies. Electronic communication (blogs and e-mail) is sometimes too easy. It’s too easy to misspell, to say something we would never say in public, to be hasty, to be lazy. It’s a substitute, and a
substitute I use too much myself. It’s easier to write an e-mail or comment on a blog, than to deal with a real person. What if I don’t agree with you? On a blog I can just walk away from my computer and never see my virtual opponent again. Here, I’ll keep bumping into you on Sundays. I’d much rather read blogs of people I agree with than risk a confrontation with a fellow member of Christ Church.

Now, the point of this is not to diss technology. It’s a great thing. But every technology is prone to abuses. John wasn’t opposed to writing letters on parchment. He wrote at least three of them, a gospel, and the Book of Revelation. God used that writing-technology in a wonderful way. But John knew a letter was no substitute for face-to-face fellowship with the saints.

The fact that you are all here and not watching a televised church service is proof that you understand this basic fact. I know many of you practice hospitality reguarly. Our church likes to party, and my exhortation is to do so more and more. My exhortation is also to go out of your way to have face-to-face fellowship with the saints. It might mean driving half an hour. It’s easier to just type in a blog-entry. But let’s go the extra mile, or extra miles, in our suburban culture. Let’s make our electronic communications an aide to face-to-face fellowship, not a substitute. Then, our joy will be complete.


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