IN HIS NAME, I WELCOME YOU!!
HEBREWS: 10: 23-25
“A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35 (NIV)
Rick Warren in his delightful but thought- provoking book, “The Purpose Driven Life” uses the term “bunny believers” to describe people who hop around from one church to another without any identity or commitment. Since my wife and I spend a good portion of our time traveling, I guess we could qualify as part-time church bunnies.
Our travels present opportunities to visit churches in various parts of the country. As “bunnies” we do not feel compelled to seek out only churches of our own denomination and we have become quite ecumenical throughout our travels. Adding to being exposed to different manners of worship, I am always intrigued and at times a bit apprehensive over the type of welcome we might receive. At times the reception is as cold as the proverbial mother-in-law kiss and other times we are overwhelmed by the greetings. One church we visited had two members they referred to as the “hugging sisters”. These middle-aged ladies demonstrated their enthusiastic greetings by hugging one and all. We were early arrivals on the morning of our visit and were shocked to be suddenly pounced upon by the “hugging sisters” who leaped upon us like two ill-trained Great Danes. It took a bit of time to recover from our greeting and although I don’t recall much else about the service, it did make me consider what we might NOT do to make visitors to our home church feel more welcome. Obviously, one of the first rules was no hugging of total strangers!! In some churches, the pastors seem to assume the responsibility and usually they were quite adept at this task. But Jesus comments about showing love and welcome are not only addressed to “paid help”. Each of us has responsibility to extend the hand of fellowship and greet our visitors in His name. The words of Hebrew 13:2 come to mind, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”