I remember when I was in grade school my family moved several times. My dad had been a farmer and when he sold out, he had several jobs at first. Each time he changed jobs, we moved.
The worst part about all those moves was changing schools. Each time I changed schools I was afraid of the first day. I knew I would probably meet someone that wanted to be friends, but I was always afraid I wouldn’t. It was hard being me.
About the fifth time we moved, we bought the house. That was a good sign. It was a place that we would probably stay.
By this time, I was in the sixth grade. The class I was in was filled with kind; thoughtful kids that made me feel a part of the class. It was a large class for that period of time. There were 60 children in the class and each one was determined that everyone would graduate grade school and move up to junior high. Once I was a part of them, I really felt good.
I remained with that class until I left school in the tenth grade. It was my choice to leave this time, but they all tried to get me to stay. We had become family that cared about each other.
In the verse of scripture above, God made this type of behavior law for the Israelites. He wanted them to welcome all strangers into their family and treat them as they would other member of their family.
In the New Testament, God established a tie between the Hebrew people and the Gentiles. God demonstrated his love for all peoples by giving the greatest gift ever given, His only begotten Son. God sent him to bring all men together in one cause. This cause was the Love of God. No one could give more love than God gave.
I also remember how hard it was to go from a sinner to a Christian. I had already been accepted by the people I ran around with, I had the confidence of those I worked with, I was scared to surrender my heart to Christ.
After I had surrendered, I was living in a new environment. I no longer had the desire to use the words I had previously used, I no longer had the desire to go to bars and get drunk, fight, and get girls. I wanted to stay home and study God’s word. I had the opportunity to change my life for the better.
Before long I had people joining me for bible study and again, we formed a family and welcomed all who wanted to study about God and His love.
The whole reason behind the statement in Leviticus 19:34 is to keep the Hebrew people from fearing other people coming into their towns and allowing them to use God’s love to welcome them and their trade into their city.
The message for us today still uses the same scripture and message. Why would God want them to welcome strangers into their family gatherings? It was never God’s intention to separate the Jewish people completely from the rest of the world. God’s intention was for the Jewish people to be an “example” for the rest of the world. They failed by rejecting the salvation brought by Jesus.
When you look at the church you will find many people that God has given many different talents to many people in the church. You will find people that are naturals at welcoming people for the first time. Those are the people that should be your greeters, not those who want to greet for a personal show.
Many people (like myself) find it hard to go out into the community and talk to people about salvation and God. That was really not what God had in mind. Christ never went into a community to talk to people about God, the community followed him because of the life he lived. God’s intention is that people will see Christ in you and follow you to church to hear about salvation.
Just as God intended for the Hebrew people to set the example for the Gentiles, the same is true for us today. Since we are Christians (Christ Like); setting the example should come easy for us. We have the advantage over the Hebrews because we have the Holy Spirit to guide us and keep us from sin.
If we do our job as Christians, the strangers will come to our church and we can welcome them as God intended.