Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
November 26, 2017
Face to face
Some years ago I fell into a dispute with one of the men in the church I was serving as pastor. We spoke angrily to each other in a telephone conversation. Our feelings simmered for several days and I began to feel guilty about the way I had spoken a man who had been my friend.
A week went by before I did what I knew I had to do. I swallowed my pride and drove to the man’s home to ask his forgiveness. With great relief I discovered that he had been miserable also and welcomed the chance to make peace with me. We wept and prayed together. A burden was lifted. In the following months our friendship became even stronger than it had been.
Our reconciliation could not have been achieved with a phone call or a letter. Hours and hours of earnest prayer would not have resolved our problem. It was necessary for us to speak to each other face to face.
This phrase – face to face – found its way into the Bible. In one of his letters, John the Elder writes to friends these words: “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”
This ordinary phrase is still used today. Interestingly, in the Greek and Hebrew languages the more accurate translation is “mouth to mouth,” not “face to face.” The meaning of course is the same. John wants to see the faces of his friends so they can share “heart to heart.” One scholar wisely observed, “In many a church, and in many a personal relationship, letters have merely succeeded in exacerbating a situation, for the most carefully written letter can be misunderstood and misinterpreted, when a little speech together would have mended matters.” Most of us have experienced the truth of that statement!
Delicate issues cannot be handled well with a telephone call. The healing of disagreements requires a face to face conversation. Face to face, we are far less likely to speak harshly to one another.
It is hardly a mystery that healing may occur when two Christians meet together face to face for there is actually a third person present. That person is Christ Himself. He promised that when two or three believers meet together, he would be with them. And when Christ is present there is a divine chemistry at work and the result is often reconciliation.
Many of the disputes that divide believers could be resolved if both parties were willing to speak together “mouth to mouth” and share their hearts with each other. I saw this happen with two women in a church. They were sisters-in-law. Some disagreement caused them to stop speaking to each other. They sat far apart when they came to church, avoiding each other.
One Sunday, at the conclusion of a worship service, I saw them talking to each other near the altar. Within a few minutes they embraced each other tenderly. They had met face to face and Christ had met with them, melting their hearts. Their broken relationship was restored.
Reconciliation is never easy. It is difficult to swallow your pride and admit you were wrong. But it is usually the only way out of the misery brought on by a shattered relationship.
Does reading this cause you to think of someone you need to meet with face to face? If so, grab yourself by the nap of the neck and arrange a meeting – face to face. And know this, that third person will be there. He keeps his promises. + + +