“Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13: 11-14
In Paul’s letters, his greetings and farewells are full of precious gold. Easy to skip or skim through, but by doing that you lose out on some really great stuff. His encouragements seem very heartfelt to me. They show how much Paul really loved those he was partnering with and serving.
“Aim for perfection”, there is that word again. In the original Greek it does not mean literal perfection, but rather to BE whole, complete and mature. If we could only grasp that concept from this passage, we would be far better off than we are most of the time. As we also would be if we only could put aside our differences and truly be of “one mind” with one another. Hell, most of the time we aren’t even of one mind inside our very own heads. Yet Paul still makes this plea. Living in peace with one another will never happen unless that “one mind” thing can really occur. I have experienced this with other saints and fellowships over the years and let me tell you, when it really happens it is truly divine and special. However, we can never MAKE it happen in our flesh. It is just one of those things that springs up in the process of simply BEING the church together instead of DOING things that we think might look like church.
Greeting one another with a holy kiss might seem socially awkward, but it is important enough that Paul tells us to do it in four of his letters. Me? I am a big holy kisser. I have kissed sisters and brothers in a holy way many, many, times in the last 35 years. It really helps us to let our guards down and be real with each other in an intimate, yet non-sexual way. Some folks are totally against the holy kiss, but still claim to be entirely biblical. I just don’t get where they are coming from.
Paul then closes his letter by saying that “all the saints send their greetings”, this serves to promote the fact that we are already connected to something bigger than just ourselves. Finally, Paul want us to experience the grace of Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of The Holy Spirit. Three things vital to any believer or group of believers. Grace is simply unmerited favor. It is a gift that cannot be earned, but only received directly from the hand of God. Christ’s Love is also unconditional, a true neverending gift. As I have said many times before here in this blog “fellowship” means mutual participation or partnership. God Himself partners with us via the Holy Spirit and fully equips us to then partner with one another. Yes, it is true that we can be one with The Spirit and one another here in this life. We don’t have to wait for heaven for this to occur. God desires that we BE one right in the here and now. I have experienced it and I highly recommend it. Now is the time to put aside our differences and to walk together arm in arm as ONE and praise Him with ONE unified voice. In Christ there is perfection, both individually and corporately. Together we can be whole, complete and mature. Jesus is calling, but how will we answer?
Love and …..
Kirk Out !