Greet one another with a holy kiss, all the churches of Christ greet you. v16
This morning I met a colleague at the lift who greeted me, "Good Morning . . ." cheerfully. I notice that she is probably the only one around the office who makes it a point to be polite and to greet everybody she meets, though sometimes she appears to do so somewhat formally. Nevertheless, it's always a pleasant encounter to meet such well mannered people who wish you a good day ahead.
In contrast, I find that such good manners are gradually disappearing from our fellowship in the church, particularly from among the young people. It's hard to find church members who would return my greetings politely, much less those who would greet me first, when we meet. It seems to me that wishing someone a good day is getting out of trend. Instead, people tend to just nod or gesture a little when meeting each other on a Sunday morning. On isolated occasions, there were those who would ignore you altogether. Is this another one of those "contemporary" things going on in the church?
Perhaps, we can learn from the example of the ancient writings of the apostles in the NT. Paul sent a long list of greetings to fellow believers at the end of his epistle to the Romans:
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. v3 - 5
Greetings, or conveying greetings appear to be a common practice expected of Christians in the early church. We are familiar with Paul's epistles, for example which almost invariably begins with a greeting like that in Romans 1:
To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Rom 1:7
Of course, the shortest greetings I have come across in the NT is, perhaps, the one from James, who wrote, "To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion, Greetings!" (James 1: 1). And besides conveying greetings in words, there are at least four occasions when NT Christians are reminded to greet each other with a "holy kiss" (Rom 16:16, 1Cor 16: 20, 2Cor 13: 12) or with a "kiss of love" (1Pet 5: 14). This, I guess, is probably similar in nature to the practice of "touching faces" in middle eastern culture today.
Greeting one another is a helpful and beneficial practice in our church. It is commanded and exemplified by the apostles in the NT. To me, it's be a fundamental practice that should be inculcated among Christians, young or old alike, lest we fall under reproach from the world.
Beloved, let us greet one another.