A timeless truth from II John

Something struck me as I was reading II John last week, when I got to verse 12:

Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

John knows that face-to-face is better than impersonal methods of communication. So much of our life today is impersonal communication: Electronic mail, texting, and social media. But while those things have certainly had a positive impact in many ways – especially allowing us to stay in contact with family and friends who live far away – they cannot replace the intimacy that comes from talking to someone in person.

Taking away face-to-face interaction is one of the great tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdowns may have been necessary, at least as originally implemented, to slow the spread of the Communist Virus and prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. We should not, however, deny that this was a serious cost. We are a social species and we need to be social. Flippantly saying that it is not a burden to watch more streaming services ignores that real cost.

Think about how online communication quickly evolved. We have emoticons and emojis because text does not convey emotion, so we have to use substitutes to let people know what we are thinking. It is very easy to misinterpret something and become offended, just as it is easy to unintentionally cause offense by lack of clarity. Even speaking on the phone gives you tone of voice, but not facial expressions and body language. Speaking and communicating in person is always better than online.

The Word of God has so many wonderful, timeless truths, especially for our lives today. The Holy Spirit knew of the truth of this when He inspired John to write this letter and how it would be helpful to us two thousand years later. We should always be thanking God for giving us His Word.