As many of you know, I run through my town two or three times per week. As I’ve run through town, I’ve seen different breeds and different types of dogs. We all know there are different breeds, but what do I mean by types? I mean their demeanor or attitude toward people.
One type is the dog who is barking, wagging its tail, and looking excited at you. This dog is hoping you’ll stop by, visit with them, play with them. They want to lick you to death and are simply excited to see someone, anyone. We generally get a long quite well with these types of dogs.
The second type is the guard dog. It’s barking, but its tail is not wagging. It has a fierce look on its face. It’s warning you not to come into the yard. If it is not on a leash or there is no fence, it may chase you down the street.
The third type is somewhere in between. This dog is excited to see people it knows. When family or friends visit, they are just like the first dog. Yet, if a stranger approaches, they are like the second dog. So long as we are one of the family or a friend, we get along fine with these dogs as well.
As I’ve walked my Christian walk for nearly three decades, I’ve seen similar characteristics in my fellow brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, I can generally lump them into one of two categories. They are either the guard dog who doesn’t want any outsider coming into the church (and often they don’t even know they are like that) or they are welcoming to members of the church while not so welcoming to outsiders.
Folks, I don’t believe Jesus called us to be either one of these types. I believe He called us to be somewhere in between the first dog and second dog. We are to be welcoming to all who want to join us while remaining just a bit cautious until we get to know them better. This means we let them know we are excited they have decided to join us. We cover them with love and acceptance. We also watch them and are willing to ask them to depart if they are offensive in nature.
Much like Jesus, we must be like the shepherd who guards the flock from the wolves. Yet, we are not to guard the flock from other sheep. If we want to know why we see a decline in our church attendance, we must ask ourselves if we are welcoming.
I pray we all are welcoming to people we meet. I pray we not only welcome but invite people to our churches. I pray each of us will seek to welcome all people, who are created by God. Be glad to see other people. Treat each person as a creation of God. Know that we welcome God when we welcome others. Be Jesus to someone today.
Mark 9:37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomesme does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”