So have you ever been shocked before? Not by electricity but by the actions of another person. I have to admit that what my granddaughter, Hayes, texted to me (see yesterday’s post) took me by surprise. It was almost a physical jolt when I read it. But my other granddaughter, Lucy, started something the last few times we visited that caught me off guard. She refused to let me kiss her. When her mommy was holding her, she would move her face away from me, so I would move to the other side to try to kiss her only to have her do it again avoiding my kisses. Of course, she had a big smile on her face while she was doing it. Then the game evolved. Mommy put Lucy down, and then I would have to chase her down the hall where she would find safety in her Memomma’s (Sonya) arms. But then I could steal a few kisses. But now, the game has evolved even more. When we Facetime with Lucy and her mommy and the time comes to give kisses and say goodbye, she covers up her face for the camera and just laughs. The only thing better than hearing my granddaughters laugh is to be able to kiss their little faces, but the game goes on.
Sadly, it’s not a game in our churches. The Bible says that we are to greet our Christian brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. Actually, these verses are what triggered my thoughts on this topic. Over the last week or so, our daily Bible readings have taken us to these verses. Sonya and I try to read the Scripture every morning at the breakfast table. We are using a modern translation on our iPads, and we also listen to the verses as we read them. The funny thing is that in our current translation, where the words read, “Greet your brothers with a holy kiss…,” the man reading says something like, “Show brotherly affection to other Christians.” It reminds me of what Hayes said, “I have a deep regard for you as well, Bampy.” I don’t know if the man reading the passage has an aversion to PDA (public displays of affection) or if he is just reading from a different edition of that particular translation, but there is a great difference between a holy kiss and brotherly affection.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have no desire to kiss any of my brethren. In fact, when we were on a mission trip in Belize a few years ago, I was helping one of my brothers do some survey work. We were working in some high grass, and it was not uncommon for deadly snakes to be in the area. In fact, it hadn’t been long before this that one had been killed. My brother reminded me of this fact, so I told him that it probably wouldn’t have to bite me to kill me. Have I ever told you that I hate snakes? But, I continued, if I were to have a heart attack and die to please not do CPR on me. He asked me, “Why not?” My reply was, “If I die, the first thing I want to see when I open my eyes is the face of Jesus, not yours.”
Having said that, we are commanded by the apostle Paul in a couple of places that we are to greet one another with “Christian affection” which goes beyond saying, “Hi. How are you today?” It’s about demonstrating joy to see each other. In fact, I believe that the way we greet each other says lots about our own relationship with God. I am a hugger. I love to hug people. I love to hug men and women, but I have learned over the years that some people don’t want to be hugged, so I try to read body language. If I start to hug someone and the stiffen up, I back off and just put my hand on his/her back and look them in the eyes to greet them. Some people don’t even want a handshake, and that, to me, is sad. When we get to the point that we cannot look our brothers and sisters in the eyes and greet them with love and respect, this is evidence of a heart problem – and I am not talking about coronary disease. It reveals a wrong relationship in the body that stems from a wrong relationship with God. You don’t have to greet someone with a holy kiss, but you definitely shouldn’t go running down the hallway either.