“Given to hospitality.” Ro 12:13 Making others feel loved and valued is a hallmark of discipleship (See Jn 13:34-35). Welcoming newcomers was important in the early church, and it’s just as important today. Social customs may change, but God’s Word doesn’t. Jesus said, “Anyone who receives you receives me” (Mt 10:40 NLT). As a follower of Christ it’s your job to make new people feel like part of “the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). Established friendships within churches can easily become religious cliques where we smile and speak to newcomers, but spend all our time with a select group of people we already know. Most of us are satisfied with our existing circle of friends, so we need to be looking for ways to include others. People come to church hoping for love and acceptance, and if they don’t find it within a month or two they move on. So keep your spiritual antennae tuned to people who seem uncomfortable and out of place. Most folks have had at least one negative experience in church, so they need extra T.L.C. (Tender Loving Care). The Bible says, “Carry each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2 NIV). Genuine warmth and caring attract people. First impressions count. Church should be a place where our love for people who are hurting is evident the minute they walk in the door. And remember, God doesn’t just use these relationships to meet the needs of those coming out of bad situations—He uses them to mature us too.
Published on Sunday, March 10, 2013 @ 12:45 PM CDT