We live in an age in which many conversations which would normally take place face-to-face happen over text messaging, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc. That’s all well and good. But there’s something valuable about a face-to-face conversation.
John, writing to Gaius, having just commended Demetrius, probably the one delivering the letter, then writes,
I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. – 3 John 1:13
John doesn’t indicate why he doesn’t want to use pen and ink. Perhaps, pens and ink were more difficult to acquire than today, and so he wanted to conserve resources. Perhaps, there was too much to say over text. Or perhaps, it was just a conversation better had in person. John then says,
I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. – 3 John 1:14
John had a desire not to only write letters to Gaius but to interact with him also, in person. There’s something very personal about this letter. From beginning to end, we feel John’s pastoral care for Gaius.
The phrase used here is “mouth to mouth”. That was a common phrase at that time to mean what we mean when we say face to face. In the Old Testament, this is how God describes His relationship with Moses when Aaron and Miriam were getting arrogant. They didn’t have the same relationship with God as Moses did. God and Moses spoke mouth to mouth, face to face. They had a close relationship, by God’s grace.
Our discipleship of one another is meant to be personal. Blogs, other online resources, books, are immensely helpful, but they are not to replace our close relationships with one another. It’s important that we don’t hide behind computer screens. It’s easy to write a blog post rebuking someone. It’s hard to call that person up or meet them face to face to lovingly and humbly correct him.
In our digital age, don’t let personal, genuine relationships fall by the wayside.