Extending God's Welcome
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. ... For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
There's something really nitty-gritty and practical about the apostle Paul's message here. In his missionary travels, he met with people in all stations of life. He debated with scholars over the Christ, and he shared the Savior with everyday men and women he met along the way. While there were certainly differences of opinion and belief in those he spoke with, it seems likely he wasn't too concerned with sorting it all out before he told them about Jesus. "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2).
After all, those who differ from us in habit or custom are not excluded from God's love. We're all sinners; we're all in the same boat—white collar, blue collar, no collar—a world full of sinners in desperate need of God's grace and mercy. Paul had this truth branded on his heart; it informed everything he did. "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost" (1 Timothy 1:15). There is no room for judgment, no reason for despising others who, like us, are lost without God's grace.
And so to those who are different than us, Paul announces: "God has welcomed him (and her)!" Jesus showed this in His breaking bread with sinners—to the displeasure of the Pharisees and scribes (see Luke 15:1-10). Jesus expressed God's all-embracing love to the Samaritan woman at the well, the Roman centurion's son, and in the story of the Jewish prodigal (see John 4; Luke 7:1-10; Luke 15:11-32). In truth, the external differences we see are cosmetic, superficial; yet they can be mighty barriers to God's work in our lives. We are blind to what God sees: the heart.
And it's there where the Holy Spirit works, bringing us to faith in Jesus, enriching our lives with His presence, and inspiring us to tell others about the Savior—with a hearty welcome to all!
Heavenly Father, teach us to look past people's differences and accept them as You have accepted us. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
1. What are some ways that God welcomes us?Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
2. Do you have an issue sometimes with people who express their faith in ways different than you?
3. Did people support and encourage you in your faith when you were younger or less mature in your faith?
There's something really nitty-gritty and practical about the apostle Paul's message here.…