Each week at New City, between a time of songs together and a time in the Scripture together we hear these words, "... now let's take moment to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us." Those words lead us into a couple of minutes of greeting one another.
We often take those words and this time lightly.
It is a moment to remember the gospel, a time to act it out.
Jesus, told his disciples a parable about his return, judgment, and things that are dear to Him said in Matthew 25, "34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’"
The King welcomed these people into the Kingdom because they had welcomed others. We shouldn't read this as good works being the way to the Kingdom; Jesus is the way. We should however see that, at the very least, those who enter the Kingdom love and welcome others.
In a spiritual sense, before we met Jesus, each of us could be classified as hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, or imprisoned. We were all desperately needy and had nothing to offer. The Good News of the Gospel is that in our broken, weary, needy state, Jesus not only saw us, but sought us, and beckoned to us. He reached out to us and met our every need. Jesus welcomed us, not because of what we offered, but because of his great love.
I was that guy - hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and bound in sin. I was desperate and needy. I had nothing to offer, nothing to bring to the table... and yet, Jesus welcomed me. That was then and is now such sweet news to me. It is the Gospel. Christ welcomed me full of joy and mercy - the perfect picture of grace.
For us, every Sunday morning's greeting time is an opportunity to remember how he welcomed us. And it is an opportunity to welcome someone else in the same way- be it a friend or a stranger... joyfully, mercifully - a beautiful picture of grace extended.
Will you join me this Sunday in welcoming others as Christ has welcomed you?
Will you show the same hospitality that he has shown to you?
You have the opportunity to be a living portrait of his grace extended... for a moment to be the good news in flesh. Will you? Greetings are never just greetings.