Like many of you, I’ve been working from home for several weeks. Much of my day is made up of meetings, currently being conducted online via Zoom or other video meeting applications. My calendar is set up to notify me 5 minutes before the start of each meeting. At that time, I log in to the meeting, mute my audio and turn off the camera, and wait for the meeting to begin. Often, there is small talk going on before the meeting starts. As the standard greetings and “how’re you doing” inquiries are exchanged, I’ve started to wonder if maybe I’ve been missing an opportunity to witness in a small way to those I work with.
When you start looking at the greetings given in the New testament, Paul was the master. Look at Romans 1:1-7. In one sentence, Paul introduces himself, gives the entire Gospel message, and offers a blessing on his readers.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-7 ESV)
Other greetings are much shorter, but still convey the writer’s servant relationship to Jesus. James 1:1 is a good example of this. “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.” (James 1:1 ESV). While the ESV uses the word “servant” to describe the writer, other translations use “bondservant” or “slave”. Also note that James is the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, yet conveys no sense of entitlement in his greeting, only a deep sense of servitude.
Jude also gave a short greeting but conveys the same deep humility having submitted completely to Christ’s lordship. “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” (Jude 1:1-2 ESV)
The greetings in 1 Peter and 2 Peter not only include an introduction and blessing but add a reference to the doctrine of election. (As an aside: If you haven’t seen Pastor John’s May 3rd sermon in which he discusses the difficult topic of election, I strongly urge you to do so.)
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
(2 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)
In all these greetings and others that can be found throughout scripture, the writers never missed an opportunity to share their deep devotion to Christ and his teachings. We need to Be Encouraged; the same opportunities are available to us today if we are only open to them.