A Welcoming Life

Published on Oct 21st, 2015 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0
A Welcoming Life

A Welcoming Life

It was one of those times.  You have had them before.  You have shared about them in church.  You say what the old timers used to say, “It was as if the verse jumped off the page and hit me right in the face” or the infamous “I must have read that 100 times before but it never hit me until today”.  It is when the Holy Spirit speaks through the Word of God to your heart.  I am not sure why we need to share it in such a violent way; but when it happens, it does cause you to stop and look at your life.

It happened to me last night when I was reading through the book of Romans with a friend.  We were quickly moving through Romans 15 when we read verse 7, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God”.  The context is speaking about the weaker and stronger brothers, and even the Jews and the Gentiles, but the verse itself is simply speaking to all of us and encourages us to welcome people in our lives as Christ welcomed us.  I must have read that verse about five times (I really don’t think I have read Romans one hundred times) before but never really paid attention to it.  I began to wonder why the Spirit of God brought that verse to my attention.  Am I welcoming people into my life as Christ welcomed me?  I never thought about Christ welcoming me into his life.  I have thought about him accepting me (another translation possibility for the word) but the idea of welcoming me caught my attention.  What does it even mean that Christ welcomed me and how did he do it?

It is kind of a fun and encouraging journey to meditate on the fact that Christ welcomed you into his life.  He certainly welcomed me where I was at in life.  He saw me in spiritual death and a miry pit and still welcomed me into his life.  Of course, he did not leave me there but chose me to display his love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, etc in my life and moved me from death to life.  He welcomed me by clothing me in his righteousness.  He did not hold it against me that I was a rich American or that I was white.  He did not seem to mind that I have knobby knees.  He welcomed me even though I like the Cleveland Browns.  He welcomed me into his life knowing full well that I would often let him down and fail miserably in the new life he has given me.  He welcomed me into his life knowing that I would, at times, choose others above him.  He even welcomed me knowing that I would often try to use him for my own purposes, that my conversations with him would often be more about me than him.  That I would constantly be asking him for things that I thought would make my life better but not necessarily make my life more like him.  When he welcomed me into his life, I did not look a thing like him and yet he did not turn me away but brought me in.  I am more like him now than I was when he first welcomed me, and yet I now realize how much I am not like him, and yet again; he still welcomes me into his life.  I am growing to like that word welcome because it reminds me that he did not bring me into his life begrudgingly or under compulsion.  I did not simply show up one day and he was obligated to be nice to me.  He welcomed me and brought me into his life even though he saw me for who I was and knew what kind of friend I would be to him.

And now he encourages me, through Paul, to welcome others in the same way.  To walk around with open arms and an open heart and welcome all into my life who he has welcomed into his life.  I cannot simply be friendly or cordial but I must welcome them into my life as Christ welcomed me.  They may bring me the same pain that I have brought Jesus or they may bring me joy as I have often brought Jesus but, either way, I need to welcome them into my life.  It seems to me to be a big word.  It is a word that is meant to tear down walls and open gates.  You don’t build a fortress and a huge drawbridge and then put a huge welcome mat down in front of it.  Maybe you have welcomed a few too many believers into your life in the past.  You have learned to be more careful.  You have put up some walls and closed a few gates to your life.  You have a welcome mat but it is inside the gate and only used for those whom you choose to let into your life.  Jesus says, “Welcome one another…”  Not simply a few, but all of the believers.  Welcome them as Christ welcomed you.

It is how we can bring great glory to God.  It is one of those God things that is completely different than what the world knows.  We do not simply welcome those in our lives whom we find compatible or can enhance our life somehow but we genuinely welcome all those whom Christ has welcomed into his life.  This brings great glory to God.  Time to put the welcome mat back outside the gate where it should have been all along.

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