June 28th is National Handshake Day. I discovered this tidbit by clicking on a link on my MSN homepage. It took me to an article written by Kate Lorenz, who is the article and advice editor for CareerBuilder.com.
This well-written piece made my mind run on several different tracks. I thought of all the dead fish handshakes I received through the years. Yuck! But, these are not nearly as unnerving as the clammy palm hand shakes. Yikes! That made me think of all the times my dear wife has reminded me that the most common way those creepy crawly germs infiltrate our bodies is by catching a ride on our hands. I also remembered the comment my wife made just a few days ago when we were attending a social event. After a young man we were visiting with walked away, she looked at me with a her sad face on and said, “He shook my hand like I was a man. It really hurt.” There really is something about this whole handshake thing, isn’t there?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I haven’t dwelt on this all day long. But, I did think about it long enough to remember the comment the Apostle Paul made about handshakes. After his meeting with the highly esteemed leaders of the Christian community on Jerusalem in which he set before them the Gospel he preached among the Gentiles, he stated that these leaders “gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me” (cf. Galatians 2:1-10).
This “right hand of fellowship” was something more than a vote of confidence or an endorsement of their message. Just as they extended their hands to them as a gesture of acceptance and approval, they were signaling their willingness to participate in the kingdom building effort described by Paul and Barnabas. By way of confirmation, Thayer tells us that the root word used for fellowship means: “fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation…and…the right hand [of fellowship] as a sign and pledge of fellowship.”
All this set me to thinking about all of the people surrounding us every day who are busily engaged in kingdom service, often without notice or thanks. So I thought: Why don’t we just co-opt this idea of a handshake day and make this an occasion for renewing our pledge of fellowship, communion and joint participation with those who embrace Christ’s kingdom calling on our lives? Why not make this a day for sending emails, making phone calls or stopping in to visit someone just to extend the right hand of fellowship?
© Bill Williams
June 27, 2006