A high calling for Christians: To make every individual we encounter feel infinitely valued, welcomed, and cherished.
Quite a challenge, isn’t it? I’d like to take a little time this week to examine this statement. Is this our calling? If so, why? If it is our calling, how in the world do we do this? What does this statement have to do with hospitality?
There was once a lawyer who came to Jesus with a question to test Him,
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus responded to him,” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.Matt. 22:35-40
I’d like to go back to Gen. 1-2 to comment on this first commandment. God is and always has been. He chose to create all the facets of the world in all of its beauty and diversity. He chose to create mankind (male and female) in His image because He desired to have a relationship with a kingdom of people who were like Him. He was pleased with the mankind that He had created and enjoyed fellowship with them. This precious relationship was fractured when the serpent came to Eve, and through her, to Adam to destroy what God had created. But God would not have His beauty and His plans destroyed. Through His Son and in conjunction with Him, God set out to redeem and to reclaim what was His. One by one, through the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, suffering the consequences of sin for each one of us, God added back to His kingdom each person who was willing to receive what Jesus had done. When an individual is added back into God’s kingdom, God is please to receive back His creation. He values, welcomes, and cherishes each child of His who has come home.
Now that we understand how important each part of His creation is to God, we realize that God values, welcomes, and cherishes not just ME, but He values, welcomes, and cherishes every individual that He has made. He extends His grace to ALL of us. We ALL have the potential to come to Him. God is a loving God who every day pours out His mercy upon all of us. In His extended teaching in Matthew 5, Jesus says in verses 44-45, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” You see, God has the right to judge. We do not. Since we do not know who is the just and who is the unjust, our calling is to love and value and appreciate and welcome and cherish every individual who may be our brother or sister in heaven. God does, and He works out the rest.
How do we make every individual we encounter feel infinitely valued, welcomed and cherished? Unfortunately we still retain much of our “worldview” from the kingdom of darkness. We look individuals in the face and this is our gut reaction:
- Is this person beautiful or handsome?
- Is this person rich or poor?
- Is this person safe?
- Is this person like me?
- Do I like this person?
These kinds of reactions are not appropriate for a child of God’s kingdom. When we encounter such reactions, we must acknowledge to God our sorrow and regret that we would disparage a valued creation of His. We ask Him to change our eyes and our heart so that we value what He values. Always. This is what He wants for us and in us. And He is faithful to teach us and to work in us to change us as citizens of His redeemed and being-redeemed kingdom of light.
So we reach out to welcome… our children, our spouses, our neighbors. We smile, we make eye-contact. We are warm and engaging and present. We give of ourselves… our time and energy and gifts… to let others know how valued, how welcomed, and how cherished they are to us… and to God.
Have you volunteered for Night to Shine? It’s the perfect event to practice and see this kind of love on display.