Reading along in Romans 14 and 15 we come across a phrase that is stunning and filled with joy-producing implications: God has welcomed us (Romans 14:3).
This long and well-reasoned exhortation to live together in the congregation in a way that makes for peace and mutual upbuilding (Romans 14:19) has as its foundation the gospel truth that we are welcomed by God.
Paul repeats the gospel reality that Christ has welcomed us and makes it the basis of our welcoming one another (Romans 15:7).
At the close of this passage, Paul gives the benediction, praying that the readers will know the joy and peace of believing in the gospel- a gospel that tells us we are accepted by God (Romans 15:13).
Do you know the joy of being welcomed by God?
Being welcomed by God means the greatest issue of our lives has been settled. Humans are in danger because they are separated from God. This danger is overlooked, ignored, or denied altogether. It is seen as irrelevant in light of the challenges and upheavals in the world today.
But our separation from God because of sin and rebellion against him is just as true as the fact that he loves us and sent his Son to die for our sins. The good news is that by faith in Christ, we are welcomed by God, no longer separated from him. Joy comes from being reconciled to God.
Being welcomed by God means that we have confidence when we feel unwelcomed by others. The world, and the Christian community that is worldly, is a harsh and critical place. The standards for acceptance are high, patience for non-conformity is low, and it doesn’t take much to be canceled and cast out.
But God has welcomed us in Christ. Those who come to him will never be cast out. Joy comes from knowing that the expectations and criticisms of others have no bearing on our acceptance with God. Christ earned that for us, and so it will stand forever.
Being welcomed by God means we have the motivation and resources to welcome one another. As we meditate on the deep love of God and his welcoming heart for us, how can we not be softened toward each other with a welcoming spirit like his?
What joy there is in a congregation where the gospel of our acceptance by God based on Christ’s work on the cross is believed and where it is expressed in our welcoming of one another.
This will be our theme this Sunday at Grace Community Church.
Join me in prayer for our congregation this weekend.