|Jeanne and Bob in December, 2009|
This very short book in the Bible packs a huge punch telling us how we should live each day for Christ. This book has three distinct messages, the first two of which are most popular to those who preach or teach from this text:
-Love one another.
-Beware of false teachers/deceivers.
-How to experience the fullness of God’s joy.
For the next few minutes let’s take the time to read and think about the messages John was trying to convey as they relate to us today.
Can You Unplug?
Loving one another and the message to do so has been around for centuries, and is brought to our attention in the Old Testament book of Leviticus. It is then hammered home in the book of John when Jesus takes it from something we should do and makes it a command, that we are to love one another. This is very clear-cut, direct, and to the point.
John cautions us about false teachers/deceivers, whose main objective is to distract and separate us from loving and obeying Christ first, and then each other. John makes this point very clear in verses 9, 10, and 11. At this point, you may want to re-read those verses. As you look at these verses, realize that in John’s day, the only ways to communicate were face to face or by letter.
As you approach the third point, realize that the intention is to make you stop, think about, and take account for how this fits into your everyday life. What is shared may cause you to question, be offended, or maybe even be provoked to anger. If so, mission accomplished! (Proceed with caution…and prayer!)
Verse 12 presents us with the importance of how God’s word is communicated and how we communicate with each other. John tells his readers, “I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.” NLT
Did you catch it? The words that John had to share were so important that he did not want to put them in writing, but wanted to share them “face to face” so that the joy of the message would be experienced by him and those who heard it.
Ask yourself the following questions:
-Are you so plugged in to your cell phone, IPad, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc., that your face to face communication with those you love and others around you has diminished?
-Have you sat down in a restaurant with your spouse, children, or a friend to have a meal together and have had to stop to answer a cell phone or text a message to someone else?
-Have you sat in that same situation, trying to discuss something important that’s going on in your life, and had to wait while the person you were with was screening calls or texts during the conversation?
Recently, while in a small neighborhood restaurant, I noticed a couple with a teenage daughter and a younger son, maybe 4 or 5 years old. The father and mother were both on their cell phones; the daughter was texting; and the young boy was stuffing ketchup-covered French fries up his nose! These people, if asked, would probably respond that they have several meals a week together as a family, and they are satisfied with the fact that they are physically together. Should we truly be satisfied with this level of communication? John’s intent was to help us realize the importance of what goes into face to face communication that cannot be duplicated in any other way. If I’m talking to you and I stop the conversation to take a phone call or receive/send a text, I am saying that you are not as important to me as the person that’s attempting to communicate with me. Those who live this way would tell you they are multi-tasking. That’s another devotional for another time!
Well, there you have it! Are you offended? Angry? Ready to track down the devotional writer and hit him upside the head with your laptop? Don’t misunderstand the message here: Technology today is mind-blowing. Our ability to use the internet and all the associated peripherals to get the Word of God out to the masses is amazing. But please, let’s not forget to sit down as often as possible with those we love to give God glory and build each other up in our faith.
Plugged or unplugged? Where are you today?
Here’s a challenge for you:
Over the next 24 hours, make a notation every time you receive or send a text message; you receive or send an email; you receive or make a cell phone call. Look over your list and decide which ones were absolutely necessary and important, and which ones were merely distractions from face to face communication with family, friends, loved ones, or time with God. Then determine whether or not changes need to be made, and seek God’s direction in making those changes.