SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2014.
‘And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entirely, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…Salute all the brethren with a holy kiss,’ I Thess. 5v23, 26.
ARE all who gather as believers truly matured to exhibit certain intimate lifestyle? Such thought must have been at the back of the mind of Apostle Paul as, he passionately in his closing benediction, spoke to the Christians at Thessalonica. His concern for the brethren was that they should be presented without blame at the coming of the Lord and so, their passions and desires should not be allowed to deny them such a glorious feat.
Of course, not all are matured in terms of emotion no matter the spiritual height they may have attained within the Christian community. It behoves the believer, therefore, not to lose sight or to take it for granted, as such can make one to make a mess of himself and the Lord, Who he represents in the world. Among scores of behaviours approved within the Christian community, you can imagine Apostle Paul saying incontrovertibly: ‘salute all the brethren with a holy kiss’. I should think ordinarily that the context of usage was such that the believers then were not above a fall; so, they needed maturity and control of their emotions to enable them implant to one another unashamedly with a ‘holy kiss.’
It is biblical that believers exhibit lifestyles that are characteristics of their calling, but caution should be applied so that in the process of exhibiting it, people do not run foul of their faith. There is no doubt that we have in most Church congregations today immature believers to the extent that in the bid to practice some biblical requirement such as giving ‘a holy kiss’ may be carried away and that the devil that is always looking for a loophole may use it as a trap thereby causing a big fall to the child of God. Stories abound of great men and women of God, who have fallen by the roadside through unguarded acts.
I want to believe that the Anglican Church, particularly the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), is sensitive to our context as Africans in their wisdom during Holy Communion celebrations had to urge believers rather than salute one another with a holy kiss, now says: ‘let us offer one another a sign of peace’. This type of peace at communion is not pecking or implanting kisses, but a warm handshake in order not to give the devil a chance. This is understandable because the moral problem pervading today’s world has gone so low to the extent that if the Church is not sensitive, the devil may come through the back door and dent the already battered image of the Church.
It becomes imperative that believers at all times should exhibit maturity when they come together as a worshipping community. Yes, the devil is never tired in his old tricks. Therefore, the Apostle Paul will continue to pray: ‘may the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; preserve your spirit and soul and body and may you be without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…salute all the brethren with a holy kiss.’VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.