Have you ever visited someone and walked into the house feeling an immediate sense of welcome? The words “you are always welcome here” seemed to float toward you as the door opened. You wandered over to the couch with the thought of curling up under the fuzzy throw because it seemed right. Or the savory smells of dinner greeted you at the door drawing you in further. You knew sitting around the table was exactly where you would find home.

Finding a place of welcome fills you in a way that just gathering with people does not always accomplish. Community gathers hoping to create a place of commonality and mutual interests, but do you wander into the group always knowing you are welcome?

When I look at the criteria for feeling welcome, I admit I measure it against my feelings first. I question how it makes me feel to gather with a certain group of people or how easily I joined into the conversation. A smile and words of welcome go a long way, but is simple hospitality enough for it to feel like home?

While feelings guard our hearts and gauge whether a true spirit of drawing others in is happening, I know they are not enough. I am a “gut feeling” kind of girl, but the world looks at things more practically. While my feelings lead the way, I am ultimately searching to belong. Knowing you are welcome happens when belonging unites with acceptance. It is the pure invitation that God extends to each of us when we choose to accept His salvation.

We learn a spirit of welcome when we choose God as our Savior. In my study of Romans, God is teaching through Paul and the lessons run deep and challenging. Embracing a life of “you are always welcome” begins when we open our hearts to the transformation of the Holy Spirit. When we release our sin to God, He circumcises our hearts and empowers us to live as Jesus. Psalm 61 provides an image of home as a life-time pass to God’s house.

You’ve always given me breathing room,
    a place to get away from it all,
A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
    an open invitation as your guest.
You’ve always taken me seriously, God,
    made me welcome among those who know and love you. Psalm 61:3-5 MSG

If we have an open invitation from God how do we react when we read the story of Mary and Martha? Is this true welcome? Did Martha do the right thing by preparing the house and a meal? What about Mary’s reaction? Is it still considered welcome when it looks more like a heart matter than an outward display of preparedness?

We learn that Paul always had an open door. His mission to share the Kingdom of God with those He met was His chance to model “you are always welcome here” on the level of looking to Jesus first.

When I look to Jesus first as I seek home as a place of welcome, I learn:

How Jesus never turned anyone away.

That a greeting of Shalom or peace reminds me that home is a place of peace.

Each invitation I receive is my chance to do some heart work and dig deeper by saying “yes”

A true welcome looks like others willingness to empower you as you enter into community.

Working from the inside out prepares a place of openness and room to receive what others offer as you join in community. It takes an open hand to receiving the gift of Jesus in order to ready your heart for His grace and love. It is not just knowing that Jesus says “you are welcome here” but living your life in a posture of doing the same for others.

I pray we reach out to welcome others as Jesus did for us.

May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!  So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Romans 15:6-8 MSG

How do you define welcome? What does it look like to belong and feel you are exactly where you should be?

Opening my heart to God’s invitation,

Catch the first part of Reimagining Home here.

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