Friday, October 23, 2015

Greetings to All

The year was 1993. Our family had just arrived to a rural, Midwestern town to begin another chapter in our military, whirl-winded lives. What was different about this new assignment was the growth and energy associated with it, as opposed to the past two locations we lived in which were closing for good due to military reductions and life there was just dead. Everything about Knob Noster, Missouri (don’t laugh, it’s a real name) was different, new and fresh; the mood, the buildings, the people. Everything had an air about it that left you excited to be a part of this mission with a bright future.

What took place from May of that year was something I had not experienced in quite sometime. Not only were the members of the base responsible for their day-to-day duties, but also their attitude, dress, and behavior were always to be a notch above standards because December 17th was coming. That date represented the delivery of the first operational B-2 stealth bomber to it’s new home at Whiteman AFB. That date also represented the first of MANY dignitaries who would grace themselves through the gates to witness and to just be in the presence of a modern-day weapon marvel. The parading of enumerable military, government and civilian leaders, current and retired, was quite a spectacle which kept us all on our toes, ready to meet and greet with great respect and gratitude as every new B-2 touched down to their new quarters.

The Apostle Paul, in a God-inspired way, bombards his audience, the church, to also be respectful and gracious to distinguished individuals…the church. Now, I’m no scholar but I haven’t seen a chapter so chock-full of imperatives (words that mean, “you just gotta do this!”) and using the same word to show urgency, as I have in Romans 16. And the very word used is “greet”. Sixteen times in fourteen verses (Romans 16:3-16) we see instruction to greet brethren.

I truly believe Paul is longing to see the many named, those unnamed, and all those who are referred to as being in various households. I’m sure he misses the camaraderie and time in worship together. I, too, would be screaming through papyrus to give them all a big bear hug and to send them my love. But I think there’s more to this than just Paul wanting the church in Rome to give an arbitrary hand shake to the brethren from him, as if this is an after thought to the previous fifteen chapters. We can’t downplay Paul’s wish to salute these brethren. In previous chapters, Paul addresses the contention between Christian Jews & Greeks and explains emphatically that the children of God (descendants) are not the children of the flesh, but of the promise (cf. 9:8); the called are not only of Jewish descent, but also Gentile (9:24); there is no distinction between Jew or Greek Christians (10:12). Paul also stresses the importance of selflessness in bearing the weaknesses of those without strength for edification sake (15:1). These scriptural references are just a few from the book of Romans displaying an underlying theme to unite, stay united, and to greet ALL of God’s children, no matter their lineage, language, length of time in-service, livelihood, or if you share the same likes.
Yep, “greet” is a pretty non-impactful word on the surface, but in context and through inspiration, we see there is no place for Christians to treat the redeemed, the saints, the children of God any less than stellar. Go and greet ‘em all, for they are all distinguished!

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