“Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.” — Romans 16:16 ESV
In wrapping up his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul does not spare ink and papyrus but sends personal greetings to various people. Beginning in verse three, and concluding with the sixteenth verse, Paul demonstrates interest in the lives of as many Christians in Rome as he can name, or so it seems. In the sixteenth verse, he directs these believers to have a like interest and affection among themselves as a church. Then Paul concludes by assuring them that all of Christ’s churches have an interest in them, all of them sending their greetings through him.
This is not the first nor only time that Paul does this in his letters. Paul also concludes his letters with warm greetings to the Corinthian church and to the church of the Thessalonians (c.f., 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26).
The bonds of love in Christ extend far beyond the particular church. This is because the Lord Jesus Christ is the spiritual Head of the whole mystical body of believers, his Church (Col 1:18). The Bible teaches that there is only “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:5-6 ESV). You may have experienced this truth while vacationing far from home, or while visiting a new church. Upon meeting someone for the first time you sense a connection and familiarity with this person. You find that you almost instinctively have a liking for and an interest in this person, and vice versa.
The truth is that there is only one true church on earth, consisting of all who believe in the Savior Jesus and their children. As spiritual members of Christ’s one mystical body, their connection is very real.
All believers profit greatly by the connectedness of all Christians in all Gospel churches — this is how the Body of Christ actually works and has worked in all of her history. Each member of the body ministers to another in bonds of love in the Spirit, as the Lord Jesus works providentially within his church. Even though this is the plain teaching of Scripture most of us are prone to think very parochially in relating to other Christians, and not catholically. Churches that brand themselves as being “Independent” are especially susceptible here. But Presbyterians glory in the connectedness of Christ’s churches, both regionally and nationally.
This coming Sunday evening we have an opportunity to show our interest and affection to Christians belonging to other particular churches in our denomination (the Presbyterian Church in America), not just to our friends at Covenant. A number of folks from Christ Church in Katy, Southwest Church, Spring Cypress Church, and Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, all faithful churches belonging to Houston Metro Presbytery (PCA), will visit Covenant. We have an evening of worship and the Lord’s Supper planned, with a full meal afterwards. This will be a good opportunity for you to serve as a witness to the spiritual truth that Paul wrote about in his letters: the communion of saints transcends our own local circle of church members.
All of Christ’s true churches have an interest in you. Let’s all reciprocate by showing our visiting brothers good hospitality and warm greetings next Sunday evening, as is proper among all the saints.
Pastor Lou Veiga