I had the blessing of taking part in the coffee hour discussions that focused on the book and YouTube series Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. As I listened to the struggles of our current society, I was overwhelmed. What could we, me and my First Presbyterian Church family, a predominantly white congregation, do to make things better? One of the discussion leaders gave a very simple yet powerful answer. “Start by making sure everyone who comes through the doors feels welcome.” As I continued reflecting on what he said I was reminded of two previous conversations I’d had with a couple of our Luke 10 neighbors, one a black man and the other who is a sexual minority, asking me if they would be welcome if they came to our church. I realized that’s what people are truly looking for – a place where they will be welcomed. As I searched the Bible for God’s perspective it was clear that welcoming ALL people is a reflection of His heart.
In Leviticus 19:34 God actually commands the Israelites to, “Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God.” (The Message). I remembered discovering this passage a few years ago while studying the life of Moses. I had always struggled with the concept of God & his “chosen people, the Israelites”. I wondered, “What about all the others? Does He care about them?” The answer is an emphatic YES as this passage reveals. Foreigners could be found among the Israelites & they were to be welcomed with love, as “one of their own”. They too, were God’s chosen people! The duty and privilege of hospitality comes right from the center of who God is.
The radical lengths God has gone to is most clearly revealed in John 3:16-17. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (New Living Translation). He gave His Son, whom He loved dearly to people who rejected Him again & again. God’s desire is for all people to experience the joy & intimacy with Him we were created for, to live in a reconciled relationship with Him, and to reside eternally in the home He has waiting for us in heaven. As God’s adopted child I always want to remember that inclusion of all who come is central to His heart. And I want God to use me and my church family to bring as many people as possible into His family.
Prayer: Abba, our loving Father, fill our hearts to overflowing with a deeper richer understanding & experience of your amazing love so we may whole heartedly welcome all those you place in our path. Shift our focus away from ourselves to Your heart – bringing your children home. In each & every detail, may we do this in Christ’s power and for his glory, pointing others to the only One that will truly satisfy their souls. In Jesus name, amen.