This past week’s sermon was from 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, where Paul genuinely gives thanks to God for the Corinthian church, one of the more dysfunctional, immature churches in history (you can listen to it on our website or Apple Podcasts). I said that this is not just an interesting observation without any necessary relevance to us, but as inspired Scripture, there are good, biblical, theological, disciple-making reasons Paul can give thanks for the Corinthians. Which means that there are good, biblical, theological, disciple-making reasons we ought to do similar.
In this post, I want to do two things: 1) connect this to another verse we often quote in service, in introducing our mingle/greeting time. 2) Provide some prayers to help apply this important truth to specific areas of our lives.
The other verse:
In Romans 15:7, Paul says, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
To be clear what this means: We are to welcome, receive, pursue one another when they don’t deserve it. We are to welcome, receive and pursue one another when they have hurt and sinned against us. We are to welcome, receive and pursue one another when they have a personality that annoys us. We are to welcome, receive and pursue one another when there’s no benefit in it for us. We are to welcome, receive and pursue one another when it makes our life harder. We are to welcome, receive and pursue one another when their growth and maturity in faith seems slow.
And we are to do this for at least two reasons, stated in the verse: 1) because this is what God has done—and continues to do—for us, in Christ. 2) Because it glorifies God when we treat one another with such undeserved grace.
Welcoming Lord Jesus, we have been hurt and sinned against by our spouse. In response, we have failed to extend to them the same grace you extend to us each and every day. You intend for your kindness to lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4), yet we expect our spouse to respond to pure justice unmixed with any tender kindness. Thank you for welcoming us when we don’t deserve it; help us to extend the same to our spouse.
Welcoming Lord Jesus, we get sinfully frustrated and angry with our kids. We are not “gentle and lowly” (Mt. 11:29) towards them; we are slow to put on “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col. 3:12). Help us to behold the wonder of your daily dealing with us as beloved children, despite our rebellion against you and selfishness towards others. And teach and empower us to treat our children likewise, delighting in them.
Welcoming Lord Jesus, we have been hurt and sinned against by those in our church family. We have been let down, confronted with selfishness, surprised by immaturity, offended by the lack of grace shown to us. In response, we have entertained pride and bitterness; we have held on to self-righteous pity; we have refused to see any evidence of God’s grace in their life and give thanks for them; we have passive-aggressively withdrawn from them rather than pursuing them. Thank you for giving yourself for us when we were actively rebelling against you. Thank you choosing to deal with us in an economy of grace, purchased with your death in our place. As you have welcomed us, and continue to welcome us, help us to welcome one another, for your glory and our good.