- Posted by Tony Huy
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One of the oddities of scripture is it’s ability to speak to the heavenly and eternal things one moment and the next, to be utterly practical and down to earth. As For His Glory Community Church embarks on a new season, I’m struck by the simple thought of how important it is to do something as simple as “greet one another.” It’s shocking how much the scriptures speak of this one simple act. Consider:
1 – That Jesus said the failure to greet others may indicate the failure to possess saving faith.
“And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matthew 5:47, ESV)
The radicalness of this statement can’t be underestimated.
2 – That the frequency in which scripture explicitly commands Christians to greet one another (1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 3:12; Phil 4:21; 1 Thess 5:26; 2 Tim 4:19; Titus 3:15; Heb 13:24; 1 Peter 5:14; 3 John 15) exceeds the frequency in which Christians are commanded to be baptized, to partake in communion, and even to preach the gospel.
3 – That Paul made great efforts to often end his letters in a “greeting” in his own handwriting (1 Cor 16:21; Col 4:18; 2 Thess 3:17). Strange when you consider all the important things Paul had to say. The one thing that Paul was very concerned with being tied to his personhood was his own greeting. On one of these instances, Paul says this greeting in his own hands was “a sign of genuiness” (2 Thess 3:17).
4 – That the apostle John believed withholding a greeting was a form of judgement against those that preach a false gospel.
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 10–11, ESV)
5 – That when Paul identified the qualities of leaders in the church, one of the must-have’s for Paul was that the potential leader be given to the practice of greeting others (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8) – that is, he was to be “hospitable.” Consider the implication here. Paul is saying a leader that is filled with vision and charisma is unfit to be a leader in the house of God if he does not know how nor practices the act of engaging the stranger.
6 – That the writer of Hebrews, among all of his spiritual warnings against being shipwrecked in faith, would include this statement:
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2, ESV)
Among the many things I pray we grow in and absolutely nail in the power of God’s Spirit, it is this – the ability to make the stranger feel welcomed, loved, and at home. Perhaps God’s word speaks so much on this because we were once aliens and strangers to the Father, or perhaps because we are now strangers and pilgrims in this world, or perhaps it’s the simple fact that a heartfelt greeting often equates to something like “You are important. I’m glad you are here and I would love to get to know you.” Whatever the case may be, let’s greet one another.