Lent Devotional: Romans 16

by Jonathan Haefs

Romans 16 (click here)
I commend to you our sister Phoebe…
Greet Prisca and Aquila…
Greet also the church in their house…
Greet my beloved Epaenetus…
Greet Mary…
Greet Andronicus and Junia…
Greet Ampliatus…
Greet Urbanus…
Greet Apelles…
Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus…
Greet my kinsman Herodion…
Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus…
Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa…
Greet the beloved Persis…
Greet Rufus…
Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas…
Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas…
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites… (Romans 16 various verses)

Reflection
Greetings…

The salutations that Paul gives in his letters, like Romans 16, can be easy for us to skip over, but they should actually cause us to slow down and ponder their beauty. Here, Paul puts flesh and blood on the love and life of the early church.

These are real people in real relationship with one another. It is easy to see that on the local level they are a close knit faith family, and yet they also feel a real, deep spiritual connection with all other churches throughout the world.

This is a community that loves one another, even those they have not yet met. They share a bond in Christ and that is enough. This truly is cruciform community and Paul calls all Christians into it! We are all to “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” Obviously that has some cultural context, but the principle is still true. We greet one another, welcome one another, readily embrace one another… and not as the world does… out of some sense of duty or just to display nice manners. No! Our greeting is a HOLY greeting. It is motivated by the love that God has poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit! It is a genuine, deep love for the other person because they are our family in Christ!

We want the best for one another! We want Christ for one another! And that is why I think Paul shows us that this Holy, faith-family love is not just a welcoming love, but a protecting love!

We welcome others that are a part of Christian community, and we protect this Christian community from people who would not display cruciform love, but abuse the church for their own ends. We guard against divisions!

Paul puts on display for us the two-pronged love we have for all Christians… a love that greets and guards! Even though we have never met most believers in the global church we love them this way… with open arms, and we are ready to take up spiritual arms to protect them!

A cruciform community is one that greets and guards the church!

 
*All previous devotionals may be found at www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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