Philemon 1-7, “We Are Welcoming” by Steve Hands
At some point or other, almost all of us stop for a moment and wonder, “Who am I? And who do I want to become?” The journey of self-discovery is a journey toward growth and necessary change that’s key to our maturation as individuals. This is also key for our growth and maturation as a church. This summer we are going to ask through a series of messages, “Who are we as Wellspring Alliance Church? And who do we want to become?” This week we’ll begin by asking, are we a hospitable church? Are we welcoming? We’ll see through Philemon 1-7 that a welcoming church feels like home when it functions as God’s family, and that our hospitality can make us into a basecamp for local mission.
First, a welcoming church feels like home when it functions as God’s family (Philemon 1-3). The church is so much more than a non-profit charitable organization or a social club. It is God’s family brought into being by the grace and peace made between us and God by the Lord Jesus Christ (v3). When we accept Christ as savior and Lord, we become his brother and God becomes our Father. We also become brothers and sisters with everyone else who shares that same faith (v1-2). When we choose to forge connections with other believers we get to experience the encouragement that comes from our new spiritual family.
Second, hospitality can make us a basecamp for local mission (Philemon 4-7). Philemon’s faith in Jesus expressed itself through his hospitality towards others (v5). He refreshed other believers, including Paul, through his hospitality (v7). Paul says this kind of love and faith demonstrated through hospitality can lead to knowledge of the benefits of Jesus (v6). Being a welcoming church is about much more than being friendly during a Sunday morning service. As we develop hospitable lifestyles, our faith in Jesus will overflow in our warmth and kindness in welcoming others into our homes.
So, are we a welcoming church? How can we become more welcoming? As we experience the warm welcoming love of Jesus, let’s join together to share that love with each other and with those who don’t yet know Him.