Speaking to the Soul – July 5

Welcoming Church

Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favouritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” Acts 10:34-36

This might not sound revolutionary to us today, but it is important to understand that Peter’s world had just been turned upside down. He had been brought up with the Old Testament idea that it was only the people of Israel whom God had chosen to be a special people. The Jews had been given very clear rules about what they should and shouldn’t eat. However, Peter had just had a vision in which he had been told to do the unthinkable. He had seen a large sheet containing all kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles and birds, and he was told he could eat any of them. His response was exactly the right one for any Jew. He said no. But then the voice said to him, “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean” (v15). This happened three times before the penny dropped. God was telling him that the good news of Jesus was no longer limited to the Jews. The doors had been flung open to the world.

The Church must always have its doors open to everyone. The moment we limit access to Jesus to a narrow group of people we have fundamentally missed the point.
Jim was a road sweeper who attended the church that I went to as a child. He was very different from anyone else who came to that church. He didn’t know the rules and would often come in halfway through the service and bang his glass milk bottle down on the hard wooden pew. He was poor, and his command of English was not great, but he was made completely welcome. Many people went out of their way to include him. The church was where he belonged. I’m grateful for that picture of welcome indelibly imprinted on my mind.

Is your church welcoming to every kind of person? If not, what could you do to make it so?

Lord Jesus, thank you that your arms are open to everyone. Help me reflect your love to those I meet day by day. Amen