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The Cost of a Kiss

"11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."
Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day.
We're so glad you're here with us today.
Today, after quite some time, studying the book of Corinthians, I and II, we say a rather long anticipated, a sad good-bye to what has become a familiar and beloved friend, this marvelous epistle. The apostle Paul’s divinely inspired writing ends with a straightforward appeal to the Christians at Corinth; we now come to the last four verses of chapter 13 of II Corinthians. Paul makes his final appeal in this letter, it is a call for unity.
Paul now wraps everything up, as he comes to this just final, finishing, few statements. We can summarize these last few verses in three words. Perfection, affection, and benediction.
Let's bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
Gracious and loving Father, thank you for your wonderful gift to us, in the treasure of the truth of Your Word. What joy it brings to the hearts of those of us that love You. Even though it’s practical and straightforward and simple, yet, Lord, it bears upon our hearts a tremendous weight because we are responsible to pursue obedience and integrity. 
Lord, help us as teachers of Your Word, to be even more concerned about these things, and lead us as Your children to be concerned about them in our lives. Help those of us who are parents to be concerned about them in our children. 
Father, we bless You for this great, wonderful gift of truth, preserved in Your Word. In a world that has turned its back on You, abandoned truth, for the pursuit of self glorification, prosperity, personal success, we humbly thank You for Your true Word to guide our lives, that we might be found acceptable to You on the coming day of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Lord, we pray that if there are any among us, who have not yet received Christ, His sacrifice for the atonement of their sin, that You would reach down and touch their hearts, so that today may be that day.
May it all be for Your glory and increase in Your Kingdom.
In Jesus’ name
Today's Message: The Cost of a Kiss
Grace, mercy and peace belong to us as God’s children. By the Love of God, the life of Jesus Christ, and the faith created by the Holy Spirit, we are members of God’s family. Within the church, there is to be a bond of family, yet, leaving room for variety. Satan, however, attempts to disrupt this unity.
As we conclude today, our study of the wonderful book of II Corinthians, I'd like to spend a moment to sort of recapture what we have learned. In the first nine chapters, Paul addressed the majority of the Christians in the Corinthian assembly. In chapters 10 - 13. through verse 10, his words were directed primarily to those who questioned his authenticity, his apostleship and his integrity. 
Paul makes a final appeal in these last verses of his letter. Now, in his closing statement the apostle turns his attention once again to those who really love and appreciate him, as he calls them "brethren." The apostle sees beyond all the fragmentation in Corinth to the basic unity of the church. God created that unity. Christians belong to each other. They are part of the family of God, and here, Paul says they ought to act that way.
As Christians, depending on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, walking in the love of God, participating in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and not walking in the flesh, we are to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. 
Beloved, this, is the kind of a Christian, we should all desire to be. 

Relationships take time, they require care and concern, in order for them to produce love and peace in our lives. In short, relationships are hard work, some more than others. Just think of the relationships that you have in your life.
I find the rituals of friendship, to be fascinating to watch and to think about. I dare say none of us, or few of us, to say the very least, gives much thought as to how we will greet a new person. For most of us, we simply stick out our hands, mutter the usual pleasantries, "How nice it is to meet you," and seem to almost instinctively know how firm the grip should be and how long to maintain eye contact, without ever giving it a second thought. 
Hand-shaking arose during the early Middle Ages, however did you know, that at least one theory, has hand-shaking, as a way to test whether the person you were meeting had a dagger in his hand? The idea seems to arrive from a mutual distrust. You hold his right hand and he holds yours, therefore, no harm is to come to either one of you.
Open with me your Bibles to the II book of Corinthians, chapter 13. I invite you to follow along with me as I read to you these final verses in this wonderful epistle from the apostle Paul to the church at Corinth. II Corinthians 13:11-14.
"Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."
In verse 11, Paul begins the end of his letter to the Christians at Corinth, with "Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."
The key to understanding this verse is found in that statement, "Be made complete," be made complete. That’s rather a comprehensive statement. It sort of sweeps over the whole verse, and we’ll look at how the rest fits in in a few moments. Let's start with "Be made complete." In the Greek, it is a very important verb, its the root of katartizō, a very commonly used word. It means, to complete, prepare.
Not in the sense that something is incomplete, as many would think, but rather to mean, something is out of sync, needing to be restore to the proper order. Something is not quite ready, it requires further preparation. It is a word, commonly used to refer to restoring a broken bone, to reducing a fracture, or to relocating a dislocated joint. In other words, Paul is calling for restoration.
We know from the previous chapters, they were a church where things were out of order, out of harmony, and he is essentially calling them to restore things to there proper order, to spiritual wholeness.

Then, in verse 12, he says "Greet one another with a holy kiss." Now, to most of us, admittedly, this doesn’t sound too exciting, however, the verse was useful, just the same, to assure young ladies that it would be perfectly appropriate and well in accord with the clear commands of Scripture, if they were to demonstrate their affections a little bit. "Greet one another with a holy kiss."
Over the years, I’ve noticed, that some people send out "signals" that tell others they want or expect to be greeted with a kiss. If anyone can explain to me, exactly what it is that people do that conveys that message, I’d be glad to comply. However, I find kissing is a difficult friendship ritual. Let's be honest, it’s got quite a lot wrapped up in it. To me, it feels as though before you kiss someone, there needs to have been some deep connection between the two of you. As though a good deal of history should have passed between people who kiss. I believe, that kissing is, well, special. 
And what was a holy kiss? It was very common in the ancient east to greet one another with a kiss. And that kind of kiss that typically occurred was a man-to-man, woman-to-woman embrace, cheek to cheek, and you can even find that today in some cultures of the world, although it’s not as common as it used to be in the west. It was a way to demonstrate affection. It was a way to endear oneself. We all know the power of a touch, and the power of an embrace. Brotherly love is an expression of affection, given to someone through ministry to help them that meets a need they have, which they are, themselves, unable to meet. We love them sacrificially. It costs us something. We show our love by meeting those needs of others, by helping them.
Perhaps, that is why Paul saves this command, "Greet one another with a holy kiss" until the very end of his letter. A lot of history, between him and the believers at Corinth has finally passed. A whole lot of things have happened in the church. And, I suspect that Paul knows that there is a price to be paid before a kiss is justified. There is a cost, there is a price in conflict, disagreement and fighting and misunderstanding that has to be paid first and when that is all resolved, reconciliation has occurred, then and only then does it make sense to "Greet one another with a holy kiss." In other words, Paul wants them to demonstrate their love for one another.
As a footnote, in Russia, men kiss mouth-to-mouth. I realize this sounds a bit awkward, however, it's endearing, a way of transcending pettiness. In western culture, we tend to do a handshake, which is not a distinctly Christian thing at all. I mean, its something that literally everyone does.
As Christians, I believe we had ought to do better, in a holy way. Holy means to be separate. Some special way to endear ourselves with others in the faith. Otherwise its shallow and insincere. Its essentially meaningless. The price of friendship, the cost of a kiss, is authentic Christlike behavior. Even when that someone is betraying you. Real relationship requires courage and takes faith, placing trust in someone.

At the end of his letter to the Corinthians,
You may still not believe me. You may not trust me yet. You may not be ready to take my word for it. But do at least this much: live authentically yourselves ... live holding to the truth as you see it in Jesus Christ, even if you think I have missed it completely, don’t you desert Christlike living. And then ... then … when you have chosen to live the best that you know how, even if you still feel I don’t quite measure up, then we can greet one another with a holy kiss. We can be friends. We can be close ... but you have to take the risk."

I think Paul is really saying, "Don’t let the failures of others become your excuse for failing yourself". Just because somebody else has not been Christlike, just because others have not been open and above board in their relationships with you, don’t allow that become a reason to treat them in a bad way. The cost of a kiss, is to be loving even when you think the other fellow may be less than loving. The cost of a kiss, the cost of a genuine Christlike community, is to be Christlike even though you suspect that someone else is not.

Beloved, today, we face different more subtle challenges. Today we have those who will embrace you with a smile and be friendly, up to a point, yet who do not value one another fully. We have those who want no cost associated with the "friendship" they offer. Today some of us have not yet paid the price of the kiss we bestow on the person of another race. We know we should be friendly, and to a point, we are ... to a point. We smile and shake hands, greet and even kiss, but there is lacking. That something within people that will not trust one another.

Paul’s message is, "Do what is right even though I may seem to have failed, do what is right, even if you think others won’t." That’s the cost of achieving a real, authentic relationship. There is also another way in which we need to be able to pay the cost of a kiss, another way in which we can enter into deep and abiding relationship. And that is to be committed to the development and improvement of one another. You cannot help but care deeply about someone in whose life and future you are investing. So when you get involved in developing someone, it will not be long before the bonds of affection will enable you to "greet one another with a holy kiss."
The problem with our culture today, we will be friends with others, IF they are in our social class, IF their education is like ours, IF their values and their style corresponds to ours, IF they pose no threat to us. We will embrace who is like us. However, there is very little cost to that kiss.  
But I ask us to embrace, to befriend somebody who is among the struggling, the down and out in this world, and we freeze like a deer caught in the headlights.. Ask us to look back and not only measure the distance we've come, but also the distance others have yet to travel, and we get uncomfortable. Ask us to devote our time and our money to someone we have little in common with, and we go running scared! We just don’t want to pay that kind of price. To embrace the embraceable, to love the unlovable, to forgive the unforgivable, the cost is just too high. 
The apostle Paul knew that if they were obedient, and if they were faithful, they would know the benediction of God, they would know the blessing of God.
And then, I thought of a young man, strong, full of the wisdom beyond the ages, inheriting all the wealth of his father, wrapped in the glory of grace, spirit and heart. I thought of him risking it all. He made himself of no reputation, yet he took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man. He humbled himself and became obedient, even unto death, even death on a cross … paying the cost of a kiss.
What a challenge the apostle Paul brings against our personal comfortableness and our very impressive suburban stratification. It is my prayer, that as followers of Jesus Christ, we will rise and meet that challenge head on.
May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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