By Michael Koontz
Pastor, Pine Ridge Baptist Church, Harriman
This week the author states “Our lives should serve as a welcome mat to the church.” How are we to be a welcome mat? What does that mean?
In our Scripture, Titus 3:3 reminds us of where we came from (lost sinners). We need to be the welcome mat because most of our communities don’t know Jesus. It’s easy to forget why we do what we do each week as a church.
Titus 3:1 starts off with the phrase “Put them in mind” or “Remind them.” God knows, we are quick to forget. So, the instruction for us, is to remind each other. As the church member, the faithful Sunday School member, remember what you need to do: Whatever it takes to make my church inviting and welcoming to my community.
That means my preferences are low on the priority list. My church is not about what I want. It’s about what God wants. My selfish preferences are not needed in the church. Philippians 2:4 tells us that we are to look out for the interests of others.
Many guests in the church will quickly determine how friendly the church really is. When our preferences cause discord or division inside of the church, our ability to be friendly is diminished greatly.
That means my prayer life needs to be deep and wide. Too often we practice puddle prayers — puddles like a child would jump in to make a mess. Those puddles have such little substance to them. The puddle is gone soon after the sun comes out, and then re-forms every time a little rain returns. Not much changes.
Puddle prayers thank God for the food or ask for health, but little more. Let’s really dive in to our prayer life. Be like Prayer Warrior Jim in our church. He has a long prayer list he covers each day. Pray for your pastor, your church, your community, your schools and teachers as the school year is starting up again. Pray that God will transform your heart to be the welcome mat.
That means love must be on display. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend training with our Sheriff’s department. I’m a new chaplain and still trying to figure out what to do and say. I went through the first day and felt like some connections were made with our deputies.
The second day, our chaplain coordinator attended as well. And he arrived with donuts for everyone. As a Baptist, we all know that the quickest way to a person’s heart is with food. Why didn’t I think of that myself? I wasn’t thinking about loving the deputies. I was more concerned about how I would be perceived as the new guy. That took my focus away from why I was really there.
John 13:34-35 tells us others will know we are genuine disciples by how we love each other. Loving others requires practice and as Titus 3:1 started off, we have to remind each other to keep practicing this as well. Loving won’t be easy because love requires sacrifice.
Sacrifice is not a popular practice in our day and time. Loving others won’t be easy because we are called to love even those we don’t like. Matthew 5:44 says to “Love your enemies.” We need to remind ourselves this is not an easy task before us.
As a Christian, I have the amazing task to love others to Jesus!