Each culture has their own way of greeting others. Some handshake, some kiss (into the air on both sides), some hug, some fist pump. Our multicultural complexity called Canada provides evidence of all types and the blending of cultures has created some interesting ‘innovations.’
As Peter concludes this first letter, in typical first century letter-writing ‘style,’ he extends greeting.
“She who is in Babylon (typically understood to be the city of Rome), chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” (I Peter 5:13-14)
In the opportunities God has granted me, I get to visit churches across this province and at times in other parts of the world. I’ve been in churches where noone has even spoken to me. I’ve been in others where a multitude of greetings are extended, depending on the depth of our relationship.
I recall, on church anniversaries and other ‘rally’ or ‘conference’ occasions, my home church often allowed for a time of greetings. These were not just ‘time fillers’ but an important reminder to all of us that those who are genuine Christ-followers are connected with the family of God around the world.
It’s important to greet one another, to demonstrate our recognition before God that we belong to Him and to each other, if this is actually true. The Christian life is not a ‘solo’ experience, but a ‘joint’ effort. We need each other. We receive grace, many times, through the ministry of others.
The ‘down-side’ of technology is that many of us have yielded to more screen time and less in person contact with others. Text messages, Facebook posts, Tweets and even emails may provide new means of greeting. It’s a discipline to live out God’s order. 1) Jesus; 2) Others; 3) You. Quite a contrast to the more typical sin of which we are all guilty – namely what Paul notes in Philippians 2:21 “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” If I understand the context correctly, Paul was writing to Christians!