In Welcome Starts in the Heart we looked at what Paul said about how we are to welcome another…with strong, surrendered, servant and scripture-filled hearts. In this post we will look at how Christ has welcomed us.
Remember the question in the previous post about the OBLIGATION we have to bear the failings of the weak? And how I promised to deal with it later? Now is later…
Good, because I want to know about this OBLIGATION you say I have…
Christ is strong in faith…He healed with the power of the Lord (Luke 5:17), He had authority over unclean spirits (Luke 4:36), and He upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Compared to His faith, we are weak. How does He bear our failings?
For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6
Apart from Christ bearing our failings and His welcoming action toward us…we have no hope and are without God in the world (Ephesians 2:12). He is our High Priest and can sympathize with our weaknesses, because He was tempted as we are yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Because Christ bears our failings we have an “obligation” to bear the failings of the weak in our lives, not out of a legalistic requirement but out of gratitude of God’s grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).
Ok, I get it. Because Christ bears my failings…I “owe” Him a debt to treat others as I have been treated.
For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” Romans 15:3
Christ surrendered Himself. First to God, by taking on the reproaches of those who reproach God and always doing the things that were pleasing to Him (John 8:29). Even though that meant humbling Himself to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). Also, for our sake He became poor, that by His poverty we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
So…not pleasing myself means that I should be kind and encouraging when I want to point out another’s faults. Not pleasing myself is to put up with the inconveniences that come in a relationship with someone weak in the fatih. Whereas, when Christ took actions that were not pleasing, He sumitted to the pain and shame of dying on the cross… Wow!
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. Romans 15:8-9
Christ became a servant to both, the Jews and to the Gentiles. He acted for our good, that we would be built up in our faith. Earlier in Romans, we find that out of a servant’s heart Christ brought us justification by His blood, provided a way that we could be saved from the wrath of God, and reconciled to God through His death (Romans 5:8-10) when we receive Him by faith.
Christ welcoming is so much more than I thought. It isn’t about Him being good or nice but that He serves us, in life changing ways, as we live out our lives of faith.
A heart full of God’s word gives the power to welcome. We know Christ as the Word, that was in the beginning, that was with God, that was God (John 1:1). Yet Christ spoke just as the Father taught Him (John 8:29).
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6
Only when we welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us can we live in harmony with one another. With united hearts, we come together with one voice glorify God. In fact, Jesus prayed that we would be one as He was one with the Father. Not just one, but perfectly one so that the world may know that God loves us even as He loved Jesus (John 17:20-23).
We do not deserve Christ’s welcome. We are weak…ungodly…sinners…and enemies of God (Romans 5:6, 8-10). He bore our weaknesses on the cross…he acted for our good…to build us up spiritually. Our welcoming as Christ has welcomed us is key to living out our life of faith.
This challenges me. I have always thought that being welcoming and showing hospitality is optional, only for the gifted. Now, I see it is key to obeying the commands to love my neighbor as myself and to love the Lord God with all my heart, mind and soul. If I am not willing to be welcoming, then I am not being loving.
“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.” Matthew 22:37-40