By John Blase
The writer Mark Spragg grew up around horses. In fact, he called himself a “horseboy.” In his memoir, Where Rivers Change Direction, he tells of how he and his father trained their horses to “show them their heads”—in other words, to pay attention or be expectant when they were around. Spragg tells of how he could walk into another man’s corral and know the man—by the way his horses lounged—to be a horse’s, well, rear.
I grew up around churches and the preachers who led those churches. I was a preacher’s boy. At the risk of oversimplification, I found two kinds of preachers: those who would greet all the people before a service began, and those who would be sequestered away somewhere in an office, putting the final touches on a sermon or praying or whatever. I could walk into other men’s churches and know the man—by the way the congregation didn’t expect to be greeted by him—to possibly be a fine speaker who could untie theological knots, but not much of a friend.
The primary text for today emphasizes how important valuing one another is. We make much about the “last things” Jesus said, and so give great importance to the Great Commission at the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel. If we’re going to be consistent, we must give equal importance to how Paul concludes the weighty letter known as Romans: “Greet one another” (Romans 16:16).
This is not some drive-by where you wave at the crowd and use words like “Hey, everybody” or “Bye, y’all.” No, this is personal. People are known by name (Phoebe, Rufus) and also by some details about them—“who risked their own necks for my life” or “my dear friend in the Lord.”
Do you greet people by their names instead of “Hey”? Do you know details about the people you come in contact with every day? Do you know anything about their story—not everything, but at least a few things? I realize some men are naturally outgoing while other men are quiet, even shy. I’ve found that has little to do with being a man who greets well.
You can tell a lot about a man by walking into his places of influence, and watching to see if the people raise their heads and eyes, expecting to receive the gift of a greeting.
In the name of Jesus and for the sake of His gospel, greet one another.
Written by John Blase