Some say that we’re creating a “new normal” due to the fear of Covid-19 virus now. As we’re “social distancing”, not shaking hands or hugging, and failing to meet together with others in the body of Christ, it may seem an odd time to bring up greeting one another with a holy kiss. In the final chapter of Romans, Paul spends 15 verses recognizing people and what they have done for the cause of Christ and the church, while asking the recipients of the letter to greet them (Rom 16:1-15).
And then he tells them how to greet them: “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send you greetings” (v 16). In the day this was written, this was a normal, cultural way to greet one another that showed genuine affection, which we are to have for one another.
If we look back in chapter 12, we see that this is a restatement of the bullet point commands given to us as to how we are to live among other believers and non-believers:
- Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.
- Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor.
- Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord.
- Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.
- Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.
- Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
- Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.
- Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
- Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes.
- If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
- Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay’, says the Lord.
- But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.
- Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
We are to genuinely love one another, and let that show even as we first greet one another. In response to the question of the greatest commandments, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matt 22:37-40)