An elderly, silver headed man walked toward me, where I stood in my new backyard overlooking the pond. He came from the house next door, shouting: “Hi neighbor!” Jimmy welcomed me with enthusiastic friendliness. I felt elated. It’s a lift when others welcome you into their lives, whether as neighbors, fellow employees, colleagues or friends. Some people make you feel just like family, although not really related. Yet they care to welcome you. That’s the Christian idea of the local church.
This idea is founded on the practice and teachings of Jesus. Jesus welcomed all sorts of people. His antagonists called him the friend of sinners. They didn’t mean it as a compliment, but he really does welcome sinners. Sinners need Jesus because he can deliver them from sin. You may feel that Jesus or his church will not welcome you. Instead, church members follow the practice of welcoming sinners, because they all need God’s love and reconciliation too. God is good to all, but people must be reconciled to God in order to know the fullness of their heavenly Father’s plan, fellowship and blessings for now and forever.
How do you know God will welcome you in this very special way? Jesus knew without doubt that his Father loved him and loved us too. God showed his love by giving Jesus to us, and by giving his truth to Jesus to live by and to share with us. Jesus showed his love for his Father and for us by showing us the truth from his Father, and by giving up his own life to rescue us from eternal loss. No one loves you if they let you believe falsehoods and live lies until you perish. The church testifies and shares in God’s love, and thus welcomes and speaks the truth in love to each other. So you may find in Christ’s church an uplifting welcome and a loving and truthful family.
Copyright © February 28, 2011 by D. Bryan Buttram
You may study your Bible on this subject by reading Luke 5:27-32, 7:31-50, 14:12-24 and 19:1-10. If you need and cannot afford a Bible, please contact us so we may give you a Bible