“But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around
his neck and kissed him. And they wept.” Genesis 33:4
God does not intend for people to relate to one another at a distance or through other people. Genuine relationship involves personal communication. As Exodus 33:11 says, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (see also 2 John 12). If this is the idea for a true friendship, it is also the ideal for a relationship that has been broken by conflict and needs to be restored. Although other people can sometimes help get the restoration process started, its ultimate goal should usually be a personal, face-to-face meeting between those who have been estranged, so they can express and confirm repentance, confession, and forgiveness and experience together the grace and reconciliation of God.Adapted from The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 148.
Food for Thought
Do you relate more face-to-face or screen-to-screen? Why?
We live in a time of connectedness. We are connected via e-mail, the Internet, our cell phones, Androids, iPods, iPads, and iPhones. Being connected now ranks among the necessities of life, alongside food and shelter. But for all the beneficial ways (and there are many) that these technologies connect us, they connect us at a distance. And we find ourselves in a far country.
As Ken reminds us, the ideal for a friendship or relationship of any kind, is speaking face to face; God does not intend for people to relate primarily by way of distance. Notice the physical beauty inherent in Genesis 33.4. Jacob receives an embrace; have you ever felt the warmth of a hug from your iPod? Esau throws his arms around Jacob’s neck; it’s a little hard to feel the rough, hairy arms of your brother by way of a cell phone. Esau kisses Jacob; ask anyone in love if they would rather have the tactile sensations of a kiss or an e-mail full of emoticons. And then the two brothers weep; the Internet can raise the level of information in our heads, but can it cause our defenses to fall, so that tears spill from our hearts?
It’s easy to blame these tools, as if they are the problem. No, the problem is where it has always been–with us. We prefer distance to closeness, and darkness over the light. These tools just help us do it in style. We stride through life, gadgets in our pockets, patting ourselves on the backs, believing we’re really connected.
Maybe we all need one of those prodigal moments–“when he came to his senses” (Luke 15.17). True sense, as God intended, will return to us via our senses. It means being hungry enough to feel the pains in your stomach, or maybe your heart. It means feeling the burn in your legs as you run toward home or maybe the hurt from that broken relationship. It means feeling the embrace of the one you’ve been estranged from; an embrace that just might squeeze the tears out of you. That kind of closeness brings life out of death; it allows you to be found instead of lost. And that story always ends with fattened calves, rings on fingers, and parties hosted by the Father; none of which can be enjoyed from a distance.