The New Testament church dealt with many conflicts that are still prevelant today. They had varying views on issues; came from different backgrounds; interpreted Scripture in different ways. Paul’s instruction to them was to “welcome” on another. He didn’t ask them to sit down and work out everything, reach a consensus or compromise. He pointed them to their mission: to glorify God. Jesus Christ is the hope for this world, and He has entrusted the church with His life-giving message. We cannot communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ if we do not show hospitality and welcome all people as valued and important. If people feel they cannot darken the church door without fear of being judged or shunned, they may never find the love and grace that Christ has to offer.

Scriptures
Mt 25:35; Lk 9:11; Rom 15:5-7; Heb 13:2; Lev 19:34; Rev 3:20, 7:9

Verse
Now may the God of perseverance and encouragement grand you to live in harmony with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another, just as Christ also welcomed us, for the glory of God.

Thought
We are the church both collectively and individually in this world. Welcoming is close to the heart of God because He knows how great the need is for people to feel welcome. Isolation and loneliness prevail and people need to feel that they are valued. Jesus valued everyone; he was criticized for eating and drinking with sinners. He treated everyone with individual dignity no matter their background, beliefs or sins. There are many people on the fringe of society—culturally, socially and spiritually. We interact with people who have different views and lives than what is familiar to us, and they need to be valued, acknowledged and welcomed. Welcoming doesn’t mean that you welcome a person’s ideology, theology or philosophy of life…it means that you welcome the person, as a creation of the Maker, as an individual masterpiece, deserving of God’s love and grace. When we work to be a person who welcomes and pulls others toward us, we grow in our faith. God builds our character, and we change and become more loving.

Questions
Who comes to mind when you think of a welcoming person? Do you consider yourself a welcoming person? If so, are you welcoming wherever you go, or just in certain situations? Explain how your demeanor either displays the welcome mat or indicates, “do not enter.” What type of person would you avoid engaging in any type of conversation? Why? What type of person would you naturally make an effort to engage in conversation? Why? How is Faith Fellowship welcoming? How can we, as a church, be more welcoming? Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being sadly lacking in the welcome department and 10 being extremely engaging, inclusive and welcoming to ALL people. What efforts will you make to be more welcoming?

Response
When you are at the grocery story, standing in line, or in a waiting room, make a point of putting out the welcome mat. Speak to people; be friendly; be approachable. Look at each person as a creation of God, made in His image and deeply loved by Him. Ask God to give you a heart for the people who cross your path. Become a person who welcomes and values others.

Prayer
Gracious Father, thank you for reaching out and welcoming me into your family. Work through me to extend your invitation to all people. Make me aware of those around me and give me a desire to make people feel important and valued. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.