by Sheri Schofield
One of the nice things about country living is watching the horses gallop around the fields, manes and tails flying gracefully. They are beautiful creatures. They are also social creatures. They stand two-by-two, facing each other’s rumps and swishing their tails in each other’s face to keep flies away.
Our neighbors have horses they use at round-up times and for recreation. They had two bay (red) horses—a gelding and a mare—until a couple years ago, when they added a palomino (blonde) gelding. I’ve noticed the palomino is always alone; the bays stay together and ignore him. There is no welcome for the new horse, no inclusion. He must dodge his own flies since the other horses don’t help him.
People can be like that, too. Satisfied with their own circle of friends, they can pay little attention to a newcomer. Churches can do the same. It takes effort to move out of our comfort zones to make new friends with complete strangers. It’s equally difficult for the newcomer to find a place in a new congregation. It’s hard to remember all the new names. One may not understand conversations at first, not knowing the history of the church. Inclusion is hard to find in a new community.
Jesus mentioned our need to include others when speaking of the final judgment. In Matthew 25:32-33, he said he will divide people into groups of goats, whom he will put to the left, and sheep, whom he will put to the right.
Then the King will say to those on the right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:34-36 NIV
The sheep on his right – those Jesus calls righteous (v. 37), will be confused, not remembering how they may have helped him!
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV).
There is a warmth and hospitality among those who have not only been saved, but who have allowed the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts, conforming them to the image of Jesus. This does not come instantly. Discipleship is learned. It takes time to surrender our hearts and homes to Christ. Hospitality develops as we follow the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.
I find the following “one another” verses in the Bible to be helpful in learning how Jesus wants me to grow.
- Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV
- And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24 ESV
- Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 ESV
We can ask the Holy Spirit to keep us mindful of people who need care and inclusion. We will be rewarded for our obedience in this, as we serve in the name of Jesus, loving those that He loves.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2 NIV
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!
FREE CHILDREN’S PROGRAM! Author/Children’s Bible teacher, Sheri Schofield, offers a free series of video lessons about Jesus and His salvation—for children ages 4 and up. It is available at her website www.sherischofield.com. In this video series, Walk-The-Talk Island, Sheri presents her award-winning book The Prince and the Plan, in 24 video lessons for your children, grandchildren and any others with whom you wish to share. In addition, Campfire provides devotions for children.
Join the Conversation: In what ways has God led you to be creative in showing hospitality?