In Matt. 25:31-46, Jesus talks about some key things that will determine whether we are welcomed into his kingdom. They’re not the things that we would think, like, you gave the most money to the church, or you never missed a Sunday service, or you read your Bible every day. Those are all great disciplines to practice, but Jesus makes it clear that simply doing those things won’t guarantee you entrance into heaven. Regrettably, we church-goers can too often focus on the activities and ministries that have to do with platforms, platitudes, and what pleases us. Jesus, instead, tells that he’s looking for those who have “done things for others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves, and in doing so, have done these things to, and for him.”
Those acts of kindness and selflessness are “things” like, giving food to the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, giving clothes to the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and welcoming a stranger into our midst. Actually, Jesus says in v. 35, “I was a stranger and you took me in.” To me, welcoming and taking in a “stranger” is as simple as genuinely reaching out and connecting to people who are guests and are visiting our church. It also speaks of how we embrace those around us in our day-to-day lives that are searching for genuine and right community. Finally, a great, and very necessary way to practice what Jesus is saying is to always make sure our Life Group has room in the circle for the “stranger.” After all, somewhere in our lives we were a “stranger” and someone took us in, offering us the privilege of acceptance, relational connectivity, and community.
Life Groups can serve as a very powerful means of welcoming and taking in the “stranger” for all the right and critical reasons. And again, according to Jesus’ words, when we do this, we are in essence, welcoming Jesus into our midst!