By Michael Koontz
Pastor, Pine Ridge Baptist Church, Harriman
“Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
I learned that song early in life at my church in Indiana. Ms. Wanda and Ms. Angela would often sing it with us during children’s church. It’s a wonderful message that is from God’s Word. It is truth.
However, the struggle is real. We typically like to be around people who are “like us.” What part of town are you from? What school do you go to? Where do you work? What is your background? And dare we even mention race, economic status, etc? The problem is, we have narrowed our vision down to unimportant factors. Romans 2:11 tells us that God does not show favoritism. That is the beautiful message of John 3:16! God so loved the world! My vision of others is corrupted when I find myself practicing favoritism. I’m guilty of sin.
God gave His Son for the world. As a Christian, as a Sunday School class, or as a church, we are to be impartial. That means that something such as race, class, or what side of the tracks you are from, is not a factor in how I treat others. This is what God demonstrated to us and we need to follow His example.
James 2:1 leaves no room for misunderstanding this topic. We must love all. When is the last time that we evaluated ourselves and our churches in the area of having open arms?
Thom Rainer covers the topic of being hospitable to church visitors in the second chapter of his book Becoming a Welcoming Church. Being hospitable doesn’t mean we shake hands for two minutes during the meet-and-greet time of a worship service.
We can easily spend most of our time visiting with those we know best at the church and neglect to spend quality time with our visitors as they arrive or before they leave.
Being hospitable is intentional. Make sure additional information is available that explains who you are and what you do as a church.
During a meeting this week, a fellow pastor shared a plan his church is working on to have a meet-and-greet time after church where visitors are welcomed to speak with the pastor and his wife.
Being hospitable doesn’t stop at noon on Sunday. I am delighted when church members come to me asking for more invitation cards to give out in the community.
That is showing hospitality and it is exactly what Luke 14:23 instructs us to do. Go out to our community and invite them! I love my church. I love my church family. I believe in what our church is doing to share the gospel and want as many as possible to join us.
“Red and yellow, black and white.” The color, the language, the status, none of that matters at all. Each and every person is here by God’s design and He wants to have an eternal relationship with each one. How will we love others to Jesus?