READ : Romans 15:7-13
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you. (v. 7)
I read a story recently about a Palestinian Christian who came as a student to America. He wanted to attend church on Sunday and chose a church with a huge sign: “Everyone welcome.” But when he went to his first service, no one would talk with him; he felt most unwelcome.
Why? Because he was Arab, and ever since 9/11 we tend to keep Arabs at arm’s length. What a shame! Did you know that Arabs were among the first believers in Jesus Christ on Pentecost? (Read Acts 2:11.) Today there is still a significant Palestinian church.
More important, as Paul testifies in this section, the goal of the church is to welcome everyone, Jew as well as Gentile, into the kingdom of God. Christ died for all human beings, and we have no right to pick and choose those with whom we want to be friendly.
It wasn’t easy in New Testament times for Jewish Christians to accept Gentile Christians, but that was all part of God’s plan, writes Paul. We have a choice either to stand in the way of God’s plan, or to help fulfill it to his glory. “Everyone welcome” is not just a slogan; it’s a mandate!
Dear God of hope, help me to welcome everyone through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.