Surprised by Others

Timothy Nelson

READ : Romans 15:7-13

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (v. 7 NRSV)

I will never forget the day that my church invited a local family, all very musically gifted, to lead us in worship. As they were setting up, I heard that one of the young men had a skin condition that affected his scalp. He asked me if it was okay for him to wear a hat during the service. I answered, “Of course,” but a little later that morning, when the band took the stage, the young man was not wearing his hat. I later learned that an elderly member of my congregation had made a rude comment about it to the man, and he then felt the need to take off his hat out of respect. I felt embarrassed and ashamed.

This story takes my mind to Romans 15, where we are commanded to welcome others in the same way that Christ welcomed us. The text also tells us that we do not simply do this to be nice or to make ourselves feel better, but for the very glory of God! Coming to faith later in life, when I first learned who Christ was and about his grace and sacrifice, what struck me was that I didn’t need to first get my act together (and remove my hat) but that Christ welcomed me just as I was.

PRAYER

Lord, help us welcome others in the way you first welcomed us—with grace and warm hospitality.