Welcoming the stranger

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She came out of nowhere, this sweet, amazing young woman, and ended up at our church. She came out of nowhere, but from great darkness.  And this past weekend we were blessed to hear her story.

It.was.incredible.

A story of dabbling in the occult, and becoming more and more seduced by the promises of power, offered to her by the darkness.

She came to our church after attending a Dunamis conference where she met the real Jesus. She met Jesus and suddenly understood that Jesus had to be the one. The only one. And after some small group prayer, and a declaration that she would only belong to Jesus, the darkness inside of her had to flee.

Her spirit is so light. Her face shines, as she reflects the beauty and life and freedom that Jesus has given her. And when she shares her story, you know. You know beyond a shadow of a doubt, of the power and the love of Jesus, and the true freedom that He can give.

And she has been so embraced by all in our community. She has been asked to help sing during worship. She has been asked to help run Bible studies. She has been asked to join a small group or two. For don’t we all love people who shine such light? Don’t we all want to be around people like that? Of course we do. And don’t we all love a good story of redemption? A story showcasing God’s amazing grace, the way that Jesus can speak to us personally, and the Spirit’s insight in breaking bondage so that we can walk fully in the light. It’s like we all want a piece of her; this beautiful, incredible woman whose love for Jesus shines brighter than anything.

So what of the other women or men that show up at the doors of our church?

Those that still live in dark places of pain? Those that are not able to look us in the eye when we greet them? Those whose clothing doesn’t quite match up with our version of what might be “acceptable”? Those who sit in stony silence and leave quickly after the service? What of those ones? What of those strangers? Do we greet them and embrace them as enthusiastically as someone who smiles and engages?

Aren’t those the ones who need to feel our sincere gratitude for their presence in our midst? For they are the ones coming with needy, aching hearts, longing for someone to reach out to them. They are the ones who need to know Christ through our attitude and example.

Don’t let your hospitality only extend to those who are like you. The sullen man in the corner? He needs someone to talk to. That cowering woman over there? She just longs for a sincere smile from someone who won’t judge her for what she happens to look like today.

Be Jesus for them.

Love Them Like Jesus

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/march/16.74.html

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One response »

  1. “we all want a piece of her”… what hauntingly accurate and beautiful words… I wonder if she really will be embraced or simply consumed… truly cared about or merely harnessed… the older I get, the more I ponder the many differences between Jesus’ embrace and an institutional embrace… too often the latter eventually, by design, usurps the life that came from the former, I’m afraid… institutionally, we so often take, thinking that we are giving… what a curious paradox that is!

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