You’re Welcome

“Welcome boys and girls, men and women of all ages!”

If you have ever attended a traveling circus you have probably heard this proclamation. These words are certainly apropos for the ringmaster as he beckons all who want to partake of the wonder and magic inside the Big Tent. As you hearken to the ringmaster’s call total strangers greet you with warm smiles and bright eyes with eager anticipation for your arrival. Everyone in the traveling show is excited for their opportunity to share with you and happy for you to walk away carrying a bit of their zestful exuberance as you go on your way. And you are happy to oblige them because this whole experience started with this one word – Welcome!

Shouldn’t these words be the gleeful refrain of the Church as well?

Two years ago I heard a lecture that was riveting and exciting and enthralling. The speaker kept me on the edge of my seat as I tuned in to every word. Each of the preacher’s statements was like a well-trained boxer landing blow after blow. I was happy to cheer him on with “Amen” after “Amen” until he changed topics. His new assault was now coming in my direction. And as I sat further and further back in my seat the truth and power of his words sent a crashing left hook square onto my chin.

He retold familiar stories about the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus and about another Samaritan who was kind to a man who probably wouldn’t be as kind to him. The lessons in these stories challenged my thinking and convicted me to change. A question was posed to the church in general, but it was as if the Spirit spoke it directly to me. The question was, “Who are your Samaritans?”

Let’s all take a moment to ponder that question …

What type of people came into your minds eye?

I tried to ignore my initial reaction to the question. I tried to distract my mind from the truth that was setting in. My mind raced down every road and detour that I could muster but the question kept coming back like wave after wave after wave on the shore.

“Who is a Samaritan to you?”

Pretty much anyone who makes me uncomfortable.

In the 22nd chapter of Matthew’s gospel there is a scene describing preparations for a wedding feast. Jesus is using a metaphor to describe the Kingdom. It reads:

Then he said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, “How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?” The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are invited, but few are chosen. – Matthew 22:8–14 (NIV)

Does anyone spot the “mistake” in Matthew’s gospel? See it should have read, “They gathered all the good people they could find and the wedding hall was filled with good people.” See, I fixed it. Now it’s just the way I want it to be. Now I can be comfortable with the guest list.

We spend much of our lives looking for ways to increase or maintain our comfort but the fact remains; God is not interested with our comfort. I have a preacher friend who says that it is more likely that “God is trying to make us comfortable with the uncomfortable”, and more and more I am convinced that this is true.

The real mistake with the story is we identify with the wrong characters in the story. We like to identify with the King. We like the rights and privileges of the King. We like to think that the banquet is ours. We like to think that we set the guest list. We like to think that we determine who is appropriate. We like having the power to say who stays and who goes. We would really like to be the King; but reality belies our best wishes.

We are the servants. The servants do the bidding of their King. The servants right, nay, their privilege, is to exercise and enact the will of the King. The banquet is His, not ours. The guests are His, not ours. We have no say in determining that this guest or that guest is appropriate for His banquet no matter our opinions, desires or discomforts. The King does not share the servants concerns.

He is concerned with His house being filled with people who actually want to be there with Him. Our concern is to go where He sends and receive whom He calls and as God works on our hearts we can respond to every guest’s reply with a heartfelt “You’re Welcome”. For many of us it is our natural inclination to seek people who look like us or speak like we do. We gravitate to people that make us comfortable; we make distinctions about who is good or bad but our distinctions are no concern to the King.

On every street corner, on every road and country lane we must compel them to come into His house so that it will be full. We can begin with this joyous refrain:

“Welcome boys and girls, men and women of all ages!”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one
who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. – Revelations 22:17 (NIV)

Peace and Blessings


Other Posts You Might Like:

Inspiring Quotes on Leadership - Brandon Bell

My Summer Experience - McKenzie Stevens

Surrounded - Bob Bentley

“On The Shores of Babylon” A Message From My Favorite Band - Brandon Bell

“Our Story” - Ross Thomson

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on the journeybaby dedication

Location
McKinney at Cardinal

101 Cardinal Drive
Denton, TX 76209

940.387.4355

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Sunday Worship Schedule
8:30 - Worship (1st Service)
Attended Nursery (0-2yr). Children (3yr-4th grade) are dismissed during the sermon to attend children's church.
9:40 - Focused Fellowship
This is a time of fellowship and refreshments throughout the building. Children pickup before or after Kids Praise.
10:00 - Adult Bible Classes & Kids Discipleship
Adult Bible Classes - locations vary. High School & Middle School Discipleship Groups in the Youth area. Kids Praise for 3yr-4th grade. Nursery 0-2yr.
11:00 - Worship (2nd Service) & Kids Bible Class
Attended Nursery (0-2yr). Children (3yr - 8th grade) are dismissed during the sermon to attend Bible classes.

Wednesday Evening Schedule
5:30 - Fellowship Meal
Adults - $4 and Students/Children $3 (during the school year)
6:30 - Passion Worship
Praise and worship time in the Worship Center.
6:30 - Celebrate Recovery
Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12-step recovery group that provides a safe place to address and deal with life's hurts, habits and hang-ups.
7:00 - Bible Classes & Small Groups
Classes for children and adults of all ages and other ministry groups meet at various locations throughout the building.

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