“I have many things to write you, but I don’t want to write to you with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face” (3 John 1:13-14).
It was very expensive to write in biblical times. Writing materials were limited and costly. They generally were inconvenient to travel with. Nomads in the desert would find that the outdoor weather conditions made writing materials too bulky to carry and difficult to protect from the elements. Even though these materials might be attainable, they often chose the outdated technology of rock and chisel since they could choose a good rock wherever they happened to be. John valued pen and ink for reasons other than the cost of pen, ink, parchment or papyrus. The purpose with which he wrote was of more value than the cost of the writing materials. So he wrote down the Gospel. He wrote the three epistles. He wrote down the book of Revelation. The biblical words contained within the pages between today’s leather Bible bindings are so precious in light of the circumstances out of which John and others put them down.
This was not enough for John. He wanted to say more than was written. He wanted to witness with the words he had received from God. Face to face we find that the limits of pen and ink are only a faded shadow of the illumination brought with personal expressions, nuanced inflections, and vivid gesturing. The personal touch we bring when we deliver words from God adds so very much! Our presence brings the Word to life. When we bring the words of the Bible on our lips with breaths that caress the sounds into living syllables, and with our eyes gleaming with compassionate gestures, we are embodying those words with flesh and blood. As witnesses of divine revelation we are curriers of God’s transforming scriptures. These words are transferred over channels of communication so clear that not any high definition transmission could handle the necessary data and no signal would have the strength to transmit the video. Personal delivery by witnesses emboldens the words as unquestionably real and undeniably valid.
The Holy Spirit elevates our personal witness and handles this valuable cargo infusing every word uttered in the name of Jesus with the miracle of grace. God’s lovingkindness enlightens each utterance. When we come bearing the gift of graceful words that surpass the limits of pen and ink and carefully bring them packaged in human warmth — when we bring those words in His name, the Holy Spirit of God empowers them to touch lives with the purposes of God for the people we care about.
Colossians 3:16–17 (NAS): “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”