welcome mat

The Welcome Mat

Today’s headlines are extraordinarily alarming in highlighting incident after incident where division, discord, and hatred have prevailed. Unfortunately, the shedding of innocent blood, prejudices against races/peoples, and the greedy pursuit of wealth, fame and power, are age-old human issues that seem to be escalating in our present time. Many have commented that human decency and kindness cannot be legislated, nor can the weapons people use to destroy others be completely outlawed (there will always be more).

Perhaps many of us Christ-followers look at ourselves as background people, not in the fray of controversy, and believe that because we are nameless and faceless, we have very little impact on such overwhelming issues. We might be praying that God will bring forth a righteous, persuasive man or woman with the wisdom, charisma, and concern for others that would be galvanizing and contagious. But what if instead of supplying that amazing leader, the Lord wanted to use the ordinary, the unknown, the timid, even the flawed individual to turn the course of our nation? What if there were many of the latter type scattered everywhere, and God’s desire is to use them altogether in the place of one leader?

We tend to believe that turning the tide of hatred and selfishness means heart-change for those who are responsible for the conflict. But what does the condition of our relationships, our thought-life, our anger, and our hurt say about our own heart-health? Although our situations might seem unrelated, are we willing to address our issues with Jesus, the ultimate Heart Specialist? What larger scale difference will the surgical hand of Christ make through us background people?

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a fellow believer and church leader, Philemon, about a friend they had in common who was also a believer. Interestingly, Onesimus, Paul’s friend, was Philemon’s AWOL slave, and Paul wanted to see both men do what was right: for Onesimus to return, and for Philemon to receive him as a brother, instead of a slave. Paul appealed to Philemon with these words, “So, if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would me. If he has done anything wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.” (PI 1:17-18)

Jesus is saying the same thing to us. He wants us to receive everyone He places around us the same way we would receive Him in Person. He is also willing for us to continue to put the charges for all offenses we have against them or them against us on Him. He has actually already paid. It was His work of forgiveness that captured our hearts to receive His Love and Truth. His Lordship continues to expose what is not of Him; He repairs and heals hearts. Then, our hearts are equipped to treat others the way He has treated us. We become like thousands of streetlights in every city and town suddenly turned on by the Master Light-switch that illumines welcome mats of unconditional love and acceptance. Perhaps God actually knows what He’s doing in choosing the nameless and faceless for His work of reconciliation. Will we be a part of His ingenious plan?