By Allen White
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings. Romans 16:16
Greeting one another with a holy kiss is the most mentioned “one another” in the New Testament (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26), so pucker up.
We don’t live in a kissing culture, except for a couple of creepy single guys and old aunts. We often see world leaders from European and Middle Eastern cultures kissing on both cheeks as a greeting. Americans prefer to shake hands, knuckle bump or high five, except for Donald Trump. He’s a germaphobe.
So, are we somehow disobeying the holy writ by avoiding the sacred smooch? I don’t think so. When we look at a passage like this, we have to decide what is universally relevant and what is particular to a culture. “Greet one another” is obviously universal. The kissing is cultural, unless you’re a Hollywood-type wearing big sunglasses with a sweater tied around your neck.
Really, what’s the big deal? We say “hi” to people. We ask how they’re doing. They politely tell us that they’re good whether they are or not. We shake hands. This is an easy one.
Let’s go the other way. Have you ever experienced a person who won’t talk to you? They don’t say “hi.” They don’t ask how you’re doing. They never shake your hand. How does that feel? You really end up in one of two places: either they are a big snob or I’m a big loser. Either they are too good to acknowledge you or you’re not worth being acknowledged.
A greeting seems like such a simple thing, yet Paul gives this instruction four times to three different churches. And, it’s been passed down for 2,000 years to us. It’s significant.
In the membership class, Perry tells a story about the early days of the church when a woman asked him if he would touch her husband. At first, it seemed like a strange request. But, then he realized that he had changed how he walked into the auditorium. He used to walk through a particular door and this man would be sitting there. Perry would touch him on the shoulder and greet him. When Perry changed doors and directions, he didn’t have this exchange with this man. Something so simple was very meaningful to this fellow.
People want to be noticed. They want to be acknowledged. They want to know that they matter to you. And, you want that too.
Greet one another! Kissing is optional.
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