How Rejoicing in God Fuels Greeting with Love
I married a hugger.
Jan loves to greet folks she knows with a warm embrace. She’s just about the best example I know of someone who takes seriously the Bible’s command to greet one another with a holy kiss (2 Cor. 13:12). She’s turned me into more of a hugger!
In my last post I wrote about the kiss of love (1 Pet. 5:14) as a gospel grace for guarding unity in the church. The gospel shapes our community with oneness when we engage one another intentionally by greeting with the holy kiss of love.
The way I see Paul’s flow in the argument makes me think we most likely will embrace his command in 12, or some modern-day, culturally appropriate version thereof, IF we take seriously and obey all five of his rapid-fire, staccato, summary-of-the-book imperatives in 2 Cor. 13:11.
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
I call them five virtues which must be operative in a gospel-shaped community if it’s going to show genuine, holy intimacy in relationships: rejoicing in the Lord, aiming at the perfect, submitting to the leadership, agreeing on the truth, and striving for the peace.
The first is rejoicing in the Lord. Finally, brothers, rejoice. Some translations have farewell. And it can mean that. The Greek word became a familiar form of greeting and parting in the New Testament world.
But the word literally is, as rendered by the ESV, the word for rejoice. Paul ends the same way in Phil 3:1 – Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord and Phil. 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Paul made it very clear in the opening of the letter, 2 Cor. 1:24, of his priority agenda in this regard – we work with you for your joy.
This way of saying hello and/or goodbye doesn’t differ all that much from the Jewish salutation shalom. Peace be to you. It conveys a certain sentiment, blessing, and hope for the party given the greeting.
It is decidedly vertical in its trajectory, for the object of rejoicing isn’t in one’s circumstances which vary substantially, but in God who always remains the same and always works all things together for a believer (Rom. 8:28).
People grounded in the bedrock theology of God’s sovereignty that contributes a deep running current of joy in His control of everything best fight against anxiety and more often than not bear the fruit of the Spirit that is joy (Gal. 5:22-23).
And because they keep their eyes on Jesus on the throne and the certainty of His love in the gospel, they possess a power to rejoice even in suffering and touch others with tangible, holy forms of intimacy rather than drown in a sea of self-pity that ignores the needs of others.
What greater need do we have than to be loved by others?
Consider giving more attention to your greeting ways in the church fueled by your rejoicing ways in God.