Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Romans 15: 7

This verse brings up the question, who is it that I do welcome and who do I not? For the reality of it all is that there are people that I give warmth and acceptance to and there are others with whom I do not so readily do this. What makes the difference, and why is it that I even think that I have a right to so discriminate when God does not do this? Jesus was hammered onto that cross for everyone. This is an undiluted and non-differentiated fact. Jesus had demonstrated the nature of God’s grace and His heart for redemption many times; so, there was really no question left about the availability of welcome when it came to God and to admittance into His kingdom. All are welcomed in, Christ has paid for that right for each and every one who will accept His love gift, and God, the Host, desires that each of us would accept the invitation to join in this eternal feast.

So, when it comes to my own attitudes about people, God grants me very little latitude to determine who is acceptable to me. As it pertains to my discriminating mind, the Lord seeks to provide me with opportunities to grow and to expand the length and the depth of my understanding of others so that I can just begin to see them as He does. Additionally, when I encounter people that are troubling to me in any of the ways that my sensibilities are upset, the Spirit is speaking to me to remind me that the person there before me that is causing me such disgust or who is so marginalized in my sight as to not even be visible is, in fact, a living, a thinking, and a feeling person who has been created by God’s own hand in His divine image. Thus, I have no right to turn up my nose or to avert my eyes when I am in the presence of God’s beloved creation.

It seems to me that the most important thing that Paul says here is what he tells us about the purpose of possessing this welcoming heart. We are to view others in this manner for the glory of God. As sinful people who dwell in our shaken and shattered world, we are not ready and willing to welcome people who trouble us into our homes and up to our tables. Acts of hospitality such as this are supernatural in their instigation and in their implementation. So, acts of care for others and extending love to them is a form of worship that carries with it the presence of Christ. This sort of unnatural acceptance of people who would in the usual state of our hearts and minds be ones that we would avoid is the work of the Spirit within us. It comes out of our surrender to the Christ who knew no strangers and who welcomed the most heavily sin stained of all humanity to come and to dine at His grace-filled table of redemption. Thus, in light of these hard truths, my Lord says to me, “My child, go about this day with open arms and with welcome on your lips.”     

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