For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 68
“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.” Philippians 4:21-22
The word “Saint” (“ἅγιον” or, “hagion” in the Greek) literally means “one who is set apart by (or for) God.” We, God’s people, are to be “holy” and “sacred ones,” given the grace of Jesus Christ so that we might live as chosen people for the glory of God. It is not our moral behavior, or religious dedication which makes us Saints, it is the sovereign grace of God which pulled us out of spiritual death and into eternal life through the justifying work of Christ. One is not deemed a “Saint” after he or she dies, based on a religious resume of achievement. The moment you received Christ as Savior and Lord, you were immediately dubbed a “Saint,” for at that precise moment, you were adopted into God’s family, made a citizen of God’s Kingdom and set apart for God’s mission, no longer of this world, even as you continue to live in this world.
Paul, a Saint, just like you and me, had been physically set apart, having been arrested for His faith and put in prison, awaiting trial to determine whether he would be allowed to continue to breathe the air of this temporal earth. In his final greeting, he reminds the church of Philippi, and each of us, of this important truth- We are Saints United.
As Saints United, we are “set apart ones” who are all “one in Christ” (Galatians 3:28). We are set apart by Christ, yet united in Christ. As such, Paul instructs the church in Philippi to greet EVERY Saint in Christ Jesus, just as ALL the Saint also greet them in Christ Jesus. There are to be no factions, divisions, or caste systems among the Saints. We do not separate or give special treatment to the rich over the poor (see James 2:2-9). There should not be a “white church” or “black church,” but THE CHURCH. We do not prop up the converted Jew and castigate the redeemed Gentile (see Colossians 3:11). Instead, we “greet,” which means to “welcome” and “enfold in the arms” of every single believer whom God puts in your life. Does every believer in your church receive a warm smile and a loving embrace when they walk through the doors? This is the uniquely Christian teaching of Biblical hospitality: All Saints warmly welcoming and embracing every Saint.
In a cultural moment of unprecedented division, disunity and estrangement, the call for every Saint to welcome and embrace all Saints could not be more apropos… we are to be Saints United. Remember the Father’s heart in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son; “But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20. Now THAT is a greeting! What if every weary, wandering and wayward son and daughter of God received that kind of welcome home? We have seen plenty believers act like the arrogant and embittered older brother in the story, unwilling to set aside their issues with their brothers and sisters and greet them with unabashed love. There is nothing appealing or inspiring about a faith that follows the rules strictly yet fails to demonstrate the greatest commandment of all.
Search your heart for a moment and ask, “Is there any brother or sister in Christ who could walk through the door of my church whom I would not be willing to offer a warm welcome and loving embrace?” Repent of any bitterness that might have been built up in your heart over the past few years. Like the older brother, there is no gain in withholding grace from your brother or sister in Christ. You will only find yourself angry and alone and missing the party!