“Greet one another with a holy kiss” (Romans 16:16).
There are still cultures where the holy kiss is practiced today. I’ll never forget my first trip to St. Petersburg, Russia with John and Helen Sergey. When the men of the Temple of the Gospel greeted John, they hugged him and warmly kissed him on the cheek. The women did the same for Helen. I even got kissed a few times. It was a strange experience for an uptight American to have Russian brothers give me a bear hug and a kiss on the cheek. But I certainly felt welcomed.
The New Testament mentions the holy kiss four times. Peter calls it the “kiss of love” in 1 Peter 5:14. It obviously mattered in the early church or it wouldn’t be mentioned so many times.
It was a holy kiss because it was exchanged between holy people. It was a holy kiss because they truly felt they were brothers and sisters in the family of God.
In the first century many of the gods of Greece and Rome were philosophic concepts, deities so far removed from mankind that no one could ever come close to them. They were like Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover–more an abstract concept than a personal God.
Into that world came the touchable God–a little baby. See his little hands, his tiny feet, his wrinkled forehead, his chubby cheeks. He nurses at his mother’s breast. She carries him in her arms. As Martin Luther said, “He whom the worlds could not enwrap, yonder lies in Mary’s lap.”
What a difference it would make if we could recapture the dynamic of the early church. Nowadays we tend to substitute technology for personal contact. We email each other, or we send a text message, or we use social media.
Here are some practical ways we can greet one another:
Go out of your way to meet someone new this week.
Get to know a family from another country.
Invite someone to your home.
Call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.
Smile and say hello to everyone you meet today.
We are the children of a touchable God. Jesus entered our world and touched the untouchable. Let that thought guide you this week. All around you are hurting, lonely and forgotten people.
Speak to them. Get to know them. A simple greeting can bring the light of heaven into a broken heart.
O God, help us to become people who deeply care for one another. May the lonely people around us see our love, and so be drawn to the light of Christ. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Musical bonus: Here’s a newer song called Baby Boy performed by For King and Country.