Have you ever turned up somewhere unexpected and been pleasantly surprised by the welcoming reception you received? Or have you timidly voiced your opinion on something and been encouraged by the responses of those around you?
When we receive a warm welcome it enables us to feel as though we belong, even if we couldn't be more out of place on the surface or have felt like more of an imposter initially.
Without knowing Jesus, we would look on our imperfections and past sins as an obstacle to growing close to Him. But He welcomes us sinners to follow Him, get to know Him, restore our relationship with our Father in heaven and experience His love for us.
When Jesus was on earth, He welcomed all sorts of people in all kinds of settings. One element that was a defining part to Jesus' welcoming attitude is the way in which He communicated that He always had the time for those who needed His help.
Many of us would like to think that we have a friendly face, exude an air of approachability and possess a demeanour that welcomes people with open arms. But when it comes to everyday interactions, a lot of us fail to cultivate such qualities. We can get so caught up in rushing around to achieve our daily goals that we scarcely extend a welcome to those around us.
Jesus was tasked with a more significant responsibility than any of us will ever be required to take on, but He still made time for the people who needed Him. And there was no prerequisite for those that came to Him – they didn't need to have known Him for any amount of time or have done something to honour Him.
We can all make an effort to follow in Jesus' footsteps here by making one simple change to our behaviour and devoting more of our time to our friends, family and those we don't know. Just like the sick woman, the man with leprosy and the many others who came to Jesus for healing and were received by Him, the strangers who we cross paths with deserve to be welcomed by us.
Sometimes all it takes for us to extend a warm reception is a few seconds of our time to ask someone who's serving us about their day or a few minutes to listen to a friend who needs to let off some steam.
If you're trying to be more welcoming to the people you surround yourself with and those you come across, here are six Bible verses to encourage you.
1 Peter 4:9 – "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."
Romans 15:7 – "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."
Leviticus 24:22 – "You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God."
Hebrews 13:12 – "And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through His own blood."
Luke 9:11 – "But the crowds learned about it and followed Him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing."
Matthew 25:35 – "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."