A Christian Welcome

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Here in the United States we often greet one another by shaking hands, but shaking hands is not the norm everywhere around the globe. For example, in parts of Asia it is customary to bow. The French often greet each other with air kisses. In Malaysia you place your hand over your heart. It’s a bit odd, but In Tibet they stick out their tongues. In Mozambique and Zimbabwe they clap. The Maori of New Zealand rub foreheads and noses together when they greet.

I read recently that the reason why shaking hands originally evolved as a greeting among westerners was to demonstrate that your hands were free of weapons and thus indicate that you came in peace. The Tibetan custom of sticking out your tongue was to show that you are not the reincarnation of a demon with a black tongue. It is a sad commentary on this sin-fallen world that these modes of greeting evolved as proofs that we did not intend any harm. Experience has taught many people to be wary and distrustful of others, and this is reflected in these greetings.

In this message we follow up on the previous message on unity (John 17:11,20-23) by studying Romans 15:7, “Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the Glory of God.” Paul wrote these words to a church that were wary and distrustful of each other. What would it look like for a church to welcome one another as Christ welcomed us? What does that mean precisely?