Characteristics of the Kingdom: Welcoming

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I have a few friends who are incredibly welcoming. These are the friends who are convinced that there is always more room at the table and are always willing to pull up a chair for you. I am immensely grateful for these people in my life who remind me that making space for others doesn’t detract from me, but actually leads to the benefit of everyone. They remind me that the scarcity mindset is not a good look for anyone, especially not for a child of God.

Growing up, I thought God was an elitist. I believed that he was up in some heavenly ivory tower judging us all down here. I envisioned him as a rule-enforcer who only wanted to create distance between us and him. Thankfully, that’s not who God is. He is kind and gracious. He was willing to leave the perfection of heaven to rescue us from sin and death. He is always extending invitations to us to come to him, we just have to accept.

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Matthew 4:23 (NIV)

If I were planning a rescue mission, I would go in with a very strategic plan to save the influential people first. I go after those with money or power or prestige, thinking that they could lead everyone else in the way to go. I would want to save leaders who then could welcome others to safety. In my mind, this would be the most efficient way to launch a large-scale rescue mission for a lost and hurting world. Thankfully, Jesus did the exact opposite of what I would’ve done.

Jesus went to the least glamorous places and sought out the people who the world had left behind. The people who were sick were avoided and shunned by society, but Jesus met with them and healed them. Those who had been the utter outcasts were welcomed into the Kingdom. Those who had longed to follow God only to be shunned and put down by a religious elite were cared for and taught by Jesus. He didn’t preach rules, he didn’t shame them for their flaws, but he shared the infinitely good news of the Kingdom. The class system that existed in religion at the time was dismantled simply by Jesus’s presence.

The Kingdom isn’t short on space or seeking people of a certain caliper or status. Seating isn’t limited and Jesus is constantly beckoning us in, adding more chairs around the table. The truth is that we’re far from perfect and none of us deserve to be welcomed in. We have all sinned, we have all fallen short, yet he still continues to faithfully choose us day after day after day.

For me, this is one of the most uncomfortable characteristics of the Kingdom because it goes against my selfish nature that wants to amass more for me. It also goes against my pride that wants to be right or be the best, but we’re all equal around his table. Being welcoming requires humility and grace. We must be able to endure with others when it’s easier to cut them off. We must be willing to say “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you,” which are two of the hardest phrases to utter.

The Kingdom is full of grace, love, joy, and peace that we are welcomed in to enjoy. And the more we experience God, the more we will welcome others to experience his presence as well. Let’s pull up a chair and make space for someone else today!

How have you experienced the welcoming nature of God?

Why do you think it’s so difficult to be welcoming to others?

To go Deeper: Read Being the Church, Woman With the Issue of Blood

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