Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)
In a town that I lived in several years ago, there was a doughnut shop infamous for not serving people. With signs posted on the wall of their establishment, the owners made it clear that certain people—essentially anyone different than them—were not welcome.
These businesspeople showed that they looked only at the outward appearance. They would not get close enough to see the doughnut-lover across the counter. Because, after all, they were only (fill in the pejorative term here), not customers to be served or God’s image-bearers to be loved.
Maybe we don’t have signs posted on our front doors or on our chests saying, “____ not welcome here.” So, it’s easy to hear a story like that and think, Those people . . . But when I look at my own heart, it doesn’t take long to realize: those same signs hang on the walls of my heart.
- I look across the table at a Christian brother or sister that I don’t easily relate to and wish I was elsewhere.
- I run into someone who thinks differently on an issue, and my mind quickly jumps to judging them. Or I get angry at the person and their position.
- In my more petty moments, I take joy in the fact that I feel free to do something because I know it would make another believer uncomfortable.
My heart’s not a pretty picture. At times I wish I didn’t have to deal with differences. Resting in the safety of “sameness” feels much easier. It definitely takes a lot less effort and sacrifice.
If this is you, too, our verse for today has something to teach us.
Paul wrote those words to a church that was in conflict because of differences. (Read Romans 14:1–15:7 to see what they were.) When you put believers from a Jewish background who have a specific way of doing things with believers from a Gentile background who have their own way of doing things . . . without love, things blow up. Names get called. Judgment happens. Quarreling becomes a way of life.
Paul reminds us that the way to love one another in the moments we’d like to kick our fellow Christians out of the doughnut shop is to instead welcome them.
My Greek dictionary tells me that “welcoming” means to take that person to yourself, to let that person into your heart as a friend. It’s not just doing your Christian duty of handing someone a bulletin at the door of the church with a smile and then never talking to them again. It looks more like inviting them to your home, welcoming them into your life, and accepting them as an equal member of God’s family, as Jesus accepted you.
That person? That welcome in your life?
Isn’t that what Jesus has done for us? When we were the ones who were outside His family and alienated from His covenant, He brought us to Himself and into His family by His blood (Eph. 2:11–13, 19).
So, as we walk in this mercy, let’s “live in . . . harmony with one another” and sing “with one voice . . . for the glory of God” (Rom. 15:5–7). How? It starts with resting in the truth that we, ourselves, have been accepted, and it continues by extending that same welcome to our brothers and sisters.
Will you join me? If so, I hear that doughnuts are a great way to make new friends.
Who are the people you know that you’d rather not get to know better? How could you consciously welcome them into your life?
Thank God for welcoming and accepting you into His family, and ask Him to give you that same heart for others.
He will give you wisdom to navigate differences in the Church, and He will welcome you into His presence one day.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. (Psalm 73:24)
This week, find a small way to extend friendship to a believer who is different from you, whether it’s by simply striking up a conversation or by inviting them over for coffee and doughnuts. Get it on the calendar, and then ask the Lord to help you to carefully listen to and enjoy them as a sibling in Christ.