One of the ancient greetings of Godís people is ďThe Lord be with you//And with your spiritĒ or ďThe Peace of the Lord be with you//And with your spirit.Ē Variations of this greeting show up a number of times in the Bible (2 Thess. 3:16, 2 Tim. 4:22, cf. Rom. 16:23, Rev. 22:21, 1 Chron. 22:11, 16), but itís not merely an old way to say “hi” or “I hope youíre doing well.” Itís actually a greeting thatís loaded with a theology of friendship and community. And it fundamentally means that our identities are completely bound up in Christ. Paul says to the Athenians on Mars Hill that in God we live and move and have our being. And at the beginning of Hebrews he says speaking of Jesus, that ďHe is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.Ē Or in Ephesians, he says that our inheritance is in Him, and in Him we have forgiveness, and in Him we have the Holy Spirit, and in Him God is uniting all things. In other words, we canít move or think or breathe or eat or drink apart from Him. Our identities are completely bound up in Him. This is what it means to be a Christian: that we no longer live for ourselves but now we live for Him because we live in Him.
But this means that all of our human interaction is also in Him. We talk together in Him, we walk together in Him, we eat together in Him, we work together in Him. This is why Christian friendship, Christian marriage, Christian family, Christian business, Christian community is all about sharing Christ in and through the various activities we engage in. And this is not just a way of speaking; we are confessing fundamentally that God is here with us. God is present in us and around us. He is here. And the Lordís Supper is the central proclamation of this reality. All of life is shared just like we share the bread and the wine. We share it all in the presence of Christ, and even more than that, because the Spirit dwells in us, somehow, everything we do as Christians becomes a place where the presence of Christ is shared. So when you say, “the Lord be with you,” you are confessing that there is no other way to have friendship, no other way to have communion, no other way to labor together except through Christ, except for the presence of the Lord with us.
Andrew Lohr says
Often the Bible uses “The Lord be with you,” not “with your spirit” (tho variants of the latter do appear); and I much prefer “The Lord be with you/And also with you” to “…with you/And with your spirit,” as if the spirit was all that mattered in some people; not that that is intended, nor Gnostic extremes to which the expression might be taken..but hey, I want the Lord to be with the bishop (or whatever) in every way, not just his spirit.