by Pastor Dan Christian
You don’t have to have the powers of observation of a Sherlock Holmes to notice that just about every epistle (i.e. letter) in the New Testament contains some reference to giving or receiving greetings. In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, the entire final chapter is devoted to specific, personal greetings to individuals. That long list of personalized greetings is capped off by a general command to “greet one another” (Rom. 16:16), a command that is repeated in 1 & 2 Corinthians and 1 Peter also.
Why is something as seemingly obvious as greeting one another a repeated command in Scripture? Why did the Church then—and why do we as the Church now—need to be reminded to do something as simple as greeting each other? Or, getting a little more personal, why do YOU sometimes neglect to say “Hi” to others. For me, the reason is often embarrassment—I’ve forgotten someone’s name or I’m not sure what to talk about. Sometimes it’s fear of ending up in an awkward moment. Sometimes (and I’m ashamed to admit this one) it’s because I know if I say “hi” I’ll end up listening to the person for a long time, and so I selfishly hold back. And sometimes busyness is the reason—I’m wrapped up in a task or preoccupied with some thought or in a hurry to get somewhere, and I miss people because I’m simply not paying attention.
Whatever our reasons for neglecting to greet others, the fact is that we DO neglect it. And therefore we need to be reminded by Scripture that greeting each other isn’t just proper cultural etiquette, but is God’s command to us. Personally (and this isn’t a definitive, fully-researched conclusion, just an opinion) I think the command to greet one another is one of the simplest commands in all of Scripture to obey. Seriously, it might take all of one second to say “hi” to someone, only a few seconds more to add in a smile or a hug or a “How are you?” It’s not hard. Even a 2-year-old can do it…or a speech-impaired child.
Think about what a simple greeting does for you, when someone takes the initiative to say “Hi.” You feel noticed, acknowledged, appreciated, loved, connected…right?! On the flipside, how do you feel when someone just passes you by without a greeting? You can feel unnoticed, like you’re “invisible.”
Let’s be a church that is characterized by obedience to this simple command to greet one another. Let’s get past our embarrassment and stop worrying about things being awkward. Let’s learn to love sacrificially like Jesus when a simple greeting stretches into a long conversation. Let’s put our phones away and slow down enough to see the people God puts in our paths. And then, just say “Hi!”…it’s that simple.