Greet one another with a holy kiss.--Romans 16:16
Does this sound a little strange to you? It sure does to me. A "holy kiss"? What is a "holy kiss" and why would we ever use them? This verse caught my attention (perhaps not for the right reasons) as I was reading Romans 16 a few minutes ago. I have never greeted someone with a holy kiss--and unless I'm mistaken, none of my friends have either. After reflecting on the fact that a youth pastor who spoke on this verse would be very popular, I decided to do some quick research on one of my favorite web sites: DesiringGod.org. John Piper's excellent sermon on Romans 16 not only explains what this holy kiss was, but also applies this verse to modern times.
Is the holy kiss simply a cultural phenomenon, completely irrelevant to modern Christians? It might seem that way. Indeed, the Gospels contain several references to kissing as a common greeting of the 1st century--similar to a modern-day handshake or a hug. So, it would not have seemed strange to Paul's hearers to hear, "kiss each other". In our culture, we simply don't do this. [Note: kissing is still used as a greeting in other cultures, just not in American culture.]
But, one could also argue that there is a way modern American Christians can apply this verse to their lives. The motive for the holy kiss was simply to tangibly display the love which Christians held for each other. Jesus exhorted his disciples to love each other in John 15:12-17. The holy kiss was a way for Christians to say to each other, "I love you like a brother." I think this is the key to applying this verse to our lives. The kiss is not the important element; brotherly affection--being displayed through tangible actions--is the key. We can apply this verse by trying to find ways to show our love for other Christians. Whether it's giving them a big hug when we greet them at church, praying for them, helping them when they're in a tight spot, or a thousand other things, we can display our love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ--in effect, we can give each other holy kisses.