28th September 2012

Greetings!

“And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that?’
Matthew 5:47 (NIV UK)

Apparently 30% of UK smartphone users check for messages or play e-games while still in bed before saying “Good morning” to their partner. Sometimes all of us get distracted from common courtesies.

Greeting someone is not just a matter of good manners. It is an inclusive gesture that re-assures others that we notice them and that they matter to us. When it came to religion, the Jewish society at the time of Christ was very exclusive. Usually non-believers would not be greeted when passed on the street. It may seem ridiculous to us now, but even today some religious groups choose to have nothing to do with others who do not share their views. They make a practice out of ignoring others!

Jesus was addressing this problem in the passage above. Don’t you realize that, if we greet only those whom we know and like, it suggests that our faith does not impact our behaviour? Surely our faith should make a daily difference in how we treat everyone. If we greet all people with friendliness and love, we begin to mirror the approach of our heavenly Father, Jesus said in the next verse. “Be perfect, therefore, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48). The Father is inclusive, seeking to welcome everyone into his Kingdom, incorporating us perfectly in Christ.

In Philippians 4:21 Paul tells us to “greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus”. In the first instance this exhorts us to welcome and include all those in the community of the church through warm words of greeting. Of course, God’s desire is that all come to him through Christ Jesus, that everyone is included in “God’s people”. I am reminded of my mother who used to embarrass me sometimes. Often she would talk to complete strangers, saying hello when she sat next to them on a bus or in the queue at the supermarket. She spoke to everyone as if they were part of her family. She set an example of inclusivity in the way she greeted family and strangers alike.

Let’s be inclusive when we meet others. Let’s be warm and friendly. Let your faith influence your behaviour. Greet everyone with love and interest.

Prayer
Father, let your Spirit flow through me that I may greet others with friendliness and interest. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by James Henderson

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