Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you.
– Romans 16:16
Romans chapter 16 has this structure of greeting, warning, greeting, and benediction. Paul writes about the sincere love that church members have for one another, particularly in verse 16, for every church and every saint to greet each other with a holy kiss.
This concept of a holy kiss brings the pure love of the holy spirit that Paul was reinforcing. He had just spent a few chapters talking about topics like loving one another, putting on Christ, the law of liberty, the law of love, bearing the burdens of one another, and glorifying God together.
In this bombshell theological book, Paul spends an immense amount of time talking about this very concept that he finally manifests in a holy kiss for saints to share and that all churches greet each other in this manner. As the church of Christ, it is so crucial in a world divided to be the church undivided. We do this with a heartfelt love for the gospel and heartfelt love for the one that bears our very name, Christ.
As we focus on the purpose of Christ, the world seems a lot less hopeless and more lost in need of a good shepherd. The continuous state of fear seems a lot less scary and more awe-inspiring that God has chosen me to live in 2022 and fear his holy name as an example. As we focus on the purpose of Christ, then we begin to see the church as this place that is safe and truly holy.
The church needs to remain holy. This is not the loudest or quietest music. This is not the best marketing or the lack thereof. This is not the most progressive preacher or most traditional. This holiness is nothing but being like Jesus Christ, filled with the holy spirit, hungering, and thirsting for righteousness, and laying our lives down for our brothers and sisters. The minor portion forementioned about the “warning” was the warning of those that cause division in the church.
Paul puts it like this, “For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” Romans 16:18
He states this after saying they cause offense and lead people contrary to sound doctrine. In 2022 words, people who do not read their Bible rely on the world more than Christ and bring it to church. We live in a time where the desire to please our bellies is more important than feeding on the bread of life. When we taste and see the bread of life, we would be foolish to feed our belly to turn away to other things. When we have tasted and seen the bread of life, we would never want anyone to taste anything else!
So, to keep the concept of “holy kiss,” we must have the desire of Christ before anything else. We must desire to bring the best of who we are to church, which is the new spiritual life of Christ. The new life of Christ is what we will be known by, as John states in chapter 13 of his gospel, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Again, this love for one another has a massive spiritual weight in our communities. When we love a brother or sister so much that we die to ourselves so that they can have more of Jesus, we act in holiness.
This active holiness radically stands out in the age of lawlessness as if we are like a city on a hill or something. This standing out makes people look, and this standing out makes people wonder. This standing out brings glory to God and, ultimately, more faith. When we bring glory to God, we cannot help but bring hope because, after all, “faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Hebrews 11:1
Let us encourage each other through love so that the lost and fearful world we live in can find saving hope and saving faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us read the benediction of Paul to end this column:
“Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith — to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” Romans 16:25-27
Brody Roser is associate pastor at The Bridge Church.