5-8 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: “Don’t begin by travelling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighbourhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
Matthew 10:5-8 The Message
What makes a church welcoming to those outside its door?
It is not the coffee or the conversation or even the assorted activities. It is about loving and celebrating people, not because of who they are and what they can do for us, but because of who we are in Christ. When we genuinely open our hands and hearts to those He brings into our midst, we become like Christ in loving them, in the same way He has first loved us.
The gospel tells us that Jesus did not look for sinners to condemn them, but He invites them to feast at the table of the kingdom. He says, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to rethink their lives and return to God.” (Luke 5:32). This is why Jesus was a master in drawing all kinds of people from all walks of life. He not only embraces them but He also empowers them to impact others with the love He gives them.
How are you like Jesus in welcoming all people fully into His church?
Welcoming someone goes beyond a handshake or a hug or a hello. Sometimes we even fail in doing some of these basic and simple things. Being welcoming is finding ways to bless people. This is why Jesus calls us who are His disciples to heal and care for the sick, hurting and broken so that they know the kingdom is here and God is for them and not against them.
The world does not need another church that won’t make any difference in the lives of those it is called to bless. We bless people best when we meet their pain with love, their sorrow with joy and their fear with peace. We don’t just go and say, “I feel sorry for you”. Rather we endeavour to show love and compassion when and wherever possible.
Love is the language we used to proclaim the gospel and live it.
If love is absent, everything we say and do is nothing but empty words and empty gestures. But if everything we say and do is grounded in grace and fuelled by love, we are truly a blessing and not a bane to our city and community.
© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
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