Face to Face – 2 John
Today’s art is a response to 2 John:
The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. (verses 1-3)
I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it… (verses 4-6)
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. (verse 12)
“The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone”…I’m not sure who said that…perhaps several people have said it. The apostle John would agree with them. There is an urgency to his words in 2 John. Keeping his message short, he concludes with, “There is so much more I’d like to tell you, but I don’t want to use paper and ink.” A circulating letter is fine. It’s a means for transporting the truth of the gospel to outlying churches that he had planted, nurtured, ministered to in years past. Perhaps some of the congregations reading this letter are newer church plants with members he’s never met before. As an old man, looking back on decades of ministry, of mentoring, he longs for fellowship. He yearns to see again the people he loves: his brothers and sisters in Christ.
The same longing for fellowship fuels us 2,000 years later. Text messages give us instant contact with quick feedback. Email and snail mail allow us to pour our thoughts into words. We can hear our friend’s voice over a long-distance phone call. Skype and FaceTime even enable us to see their reactions to our conversation. But face to face, live interpersonal contact is so much more fulfilling…it makes our joy complete! Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” So much more accountability and encouragement can be exchanged face-to-face than any other way! It engages all of the senses, allowing for verbal as well as nonverbal communication…eliminating many opportunities for miscommunication.
Over the past decade I’ve worked with middle-school ministries in my church. Weekly Bible studies, retreats, small groups, and 8th-grade mentoring are all highlights to my ministry year. They are my face-time with the kids. I never get tired of seeing the “Aha! I get it!” look on their faces when they’ve connected with something newer and deeper in their faith. As the Bible comes alive for them, it refreshes the Life in me! On the flip side, my own spritual growth is encouraged by peers, friends, older women and men in the church who invest in me. We’ll meet for dinner or coffee, go for walks…spend time face to face, encouraging and praying for each other.
All of this connects, I believe, to the basic human need to be known and accepted. Paul, at the end of his exhortation on the meaning of love, states: “Now we see only a reflection as in a dim mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) The joy we feel now when fellowshipping with other Christians is merely a taste…a dim reflection…of the joy we’ll experience in Heaven when we get to see our Creator face-to-face. Then we won’t have to rely on the written Word to decipher what He’d like to say to us. We will know His love fully, even as we are fully known.
Mollie is a high school drawing and painting instructor, with her MFA in Illustration, who lives near Chicago. She grew up surrounded by children’s books and bedtime stories. Though she doesn’t have children of her own yet, her picture book library is well stocked with new and old favorites. Whether working on children’s book illustrations, murals, or private commissions, Mollie enjoys the interplay of imagery with text. The Bible in particular has so many stories to tell. She likes the challenge of bringing scripture passages to life through calligraphy or illustrative portraits. Preferring to work in watercolor and ink, she chooses her medium based on the effects she hopes to capture in a piece. Her blog, Telling the Story Between the Lines, can be found at MollieBozarth.wordpress.com.