Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How Would You be Greeted?

Today I want to examine the first sixteen verses of Romans chapter sixteen. The text is lengthy but the observations brief. Here the Apostle Paul is writing to the church at Rome. He begins with a recommendation of Phoebe, a sister in the Lord.

He speaks of her as being a helper to the multitudes. He refers to her as a servant of the church.
Although the word that he uses for servant is the same one that can be rendered as deaconess; we can gather from verse two that he means to accentuate her servanthood rather than an office.

All but one of the following 14 verses, begin with the word, "Greet" followed by a name of a brother or sister in the Roman church. What is interesting to me is the descriptive words that he adds about each person. These descriptions range from extended compliments to just stating his relationship with them. And a few greetings are extended to nameless groups of folks.

How would he have qualified his greetings had he been writing to your pastor? Would you be considered his fellow-worker? Would he have recognized you as the first convert in your area? Would he have expounded on your faithfulness and maturity in Christ? Would he have labeled you a hard worker or just a relative?

Would you be miffed if he greeted you only as motheror sister? Or would you swell with pride at the suffix "chosen of the Lord"? And what if he openly stated his love for you?

It is a lot to think about. There may have been one listening to the letter and wondering if their name would be mentioned and what glowing remarks would be added. Still others may have gotten their feelings hurt when their names were not called. Perhaps some were tempted to be jealous or resentful. It is impossible to know for sure.

One thing is certain, Paul knew his flock. How else would he have had the confidence to instruct them to greet one another with a holy kiss? I'm afraid to contemplate the repercussions of such an act in today's churches. Holiness is considered old-fashioned by today's standards and is near obsolete in many congregations. And kissing in church? I think that there's a lot more than that going on behind some church doors. God have mercy!

I didn't mean to slide into the rants of moral decay, it just somehow came to my mind. Nevertheless, I want my name to have some goodness attached. I want to be remembered as a fellow-laborer in the Kingdom. I want to be able to give and receive holy greetings, salutations, and kisses.

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