Welcome. Hi. How you doing?

Welcome... How are you doing... See you later. That can sometimes sum up our effort of a welcome to another. Is that the way God intended it to be? Actually, that is somewhat opposite of what God intended. Romans 15:7, commands us as followers of Christ "to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." Paul does not say, “say hi to one another.” The Greek word translated “welcome” is much heavier than just a greeting or a head nod. Welcome means “take another to yourself and treat them as a friend with loving kindness."

Why are we to be a welcoming people? Because Jesus did not avoid people, He welcomed them, all of them. Do you remember how He welcomed you? He moved toward you enthusiastically, passionately, wholeheartedly and sacrificially with great loving kindness unto death. Jesus moved toward you and said, I want you in my life and kingdom for eternity. When we welcome others because of Jesus’ welcome to us, the glory of God’s grace is clearly displayed to others and the world.

What does biblical welcoming look like? It is rich in mercy and lavish in grace toward others as Christ has been for us. Welcoming others withholds condemnation in the same way Christ’s welcoming of us was absent of condemnation. Welcoming others means being open-handed and generous with our time, energy and resources as Christ has generously given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Welcoming others is patient and resilient when we let each other down or discover that we have differences. Our welcoming of others is to be a picture of how Christ has welcomed us.

What is at stake when we choose not to welcome each other? We diminish God’s glory in this world. When you go to the beach and watch a magnificent sunrise or when you look up into the night sky at God’s vast universe, creation is declaring His eternal majesty. The same glorious majesty of God is being declared when we engage in welcoming one another as Christ wholeheartedly welcomed us. Your welcoming of others brings a sunrise level amount of glory to God!

How does a church become not welcoming? Well, most likely they forget about how Christ pursued and welcomed them even when they were separated from God (Eph. 2:12). We have to remind ourselves that Christ has welcomed us and so we are to welcome others in the same sacrificial way. We can also be unwelcoming by simply enjoying and gravitating to the huddle of people we naturally have relationships with. We then think that we are welcoming because we are friendly to each in our huddle. Unfortunately, only a select few are included. Or maybe we are not prayerfully and intentionally trying to welcome others. Welcoming others takes planning and readiness to see who needs to be welcomed. The best welcoming happens throughout the week as we meet face to face or in homes sharing a meal. Welcoming others is an intentional work, as it is for Christ.

See you on Sunday, with a warm welcome: Steve

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