This is church language. A gathered-church.
The context: Some were NOT welcoming others. So the word to church: "welcome those whom you are not welcoming."
Negative application: What are our attitudes and actions NOW that communicate "you're unwelcome here" or prohibit the welcome of those we are not welcoming (those not like us/those we hate/those we in-some-way-look-down-upon)? Discover, lament, repent.
Positive application: Intentional action that welcomes those unlike us whom we are not currently welcoming.
- This past week I have had at least 3 homeless people cry as they told me about sleeping in tents.
- This past week I was called "Pastor C" by a homeless man and, then, bear-hugged.
Kids, I want to ask you a question (like I usually do), but I want you to pause and really think about your answer. When you walk into a room, into a home, into a party, into any place where there are other people (your age), what's the first thing you ask yourself?
Of course I spent a little time explaining what "ask yourself" means because they don't even know they are "asking" anything. Had plenty of puzzled looks for the most part . . . but I knew they'd get it when I told them what I thought their first question to themselves would be . . .
I said, "When you walk into a room, into a home, into a party, into any place where there are other people (your age), don't you ask yourself, 'Are my friends here?' (Parents, don't we even ask this?)"
You can see their minds work by their eyes and facial expressions. O yeah! Lots of nodding yes. They got it . . . so did the adults . . .
Of course I said this is natural and not a bad thing . . . but that can stop us from asking other questions like, who is lonely here, who is not liked and needs a friend, who is uncomfortable here and needs someone to talk to . . .
This is what Jesus did for us: he came into the party, knowing full well he didn't have any friends there, and asked, "Who is lost? Who needs a friend?"
This is church, people (now I'm not talking to the kids, but you, blog friends). Maturing in Christ means getting beyond "who are my friends?" and "are my friends here?" And this is also about maturing as a church, as a gathered-church.