“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” – Romans 15:5-7
Are you inclusive or exclusive? When it comes to spending time with others, are you known for those you include or those you exclude? It’s a harsh question, but one that needs to be asked. As followers of Jesus, we are called to be a welcoming, hospitable people pointing others to God. Unfortunately, too often Christians are seen as constructing barriers that only prevent people from seeing God. It seems we are known more for what we are against, instead of what we are for – excluding rather than inviting.
Don’t get me wrong. Standing up for our beliefs and confronting wrong is a good thing. We are not willing to compromise and call sin acceptable. However, the delivery and timing matter! This is why in John chapter 1, Jesus is called the picture of grace and truth revealed. Delivering truth without grace is harsh and too often becomes a barrier to people hearing the Gospel. This is why hospitality is so important. This is why including rather than excluding others is key. Remember, people will start to care about what we believe when they first believe that we care!
So how can we become more inclusive? More hospitable to those around us?
- Be Transparent. The more we invite others in, the greater the chances they see that we don’t have it all together – the greater the chances our lives will point them to Christ. People need to see our need for Jesus so they can see what He has done for us.
- Be Generous. Be generous with your time, your resources, and your interest in the lives of others. The greatest joy will not be found in living for ourselves, but rather living lives that bless and benefit others.
- Don’t Forget. There’s not one person alive who has it all together. Remember that destructive quest for pleasure that only left you empty? What about those seasons of hopelessness or the brokenness and shame you carried far too long? Don’t forget where you were when you first met God.
Every Jesus follower has known the need for a Savior and experienced God’s incredible love that brought us back to life. We’ve been included – because Jesus included us. So, who are you going to invite into your life today to show the love of God?
Adapted from a sermon by Senior Pastor, George Wright
Shandon Baptist Church, SC