"Ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying." Acts 9:11
Every church, new or old, is a tough crowd to enter. It always takes a person on the inside to reach out to a person coming from the outside. Do you see that person standing in the church fellowship hall? She's hiding behind a Styrofoam cup of coffee to see if anyone comes and talks to her. She may be deciding whether to ever visit again. Do you see that junior high person who began coming here because of your church's youth ministry? Do you see that other new person entering the building, wondering where the nursery is? These people have no family here yet to make them feel welcome. Do you see that crusty-looking elderly person? This may be his first day back to church in 40 years.
Maybe you think: If only God himself would tell me who to welcome, I would do it gladly. But when God asked Ananias to help Paul, he responded, "No way!" Saul, the Christian-hater, wouldn't have been the easiest person to love. But eventually Ananias risked his life to welcome him. Ananias is an unsung hero in the church.
For whom can you be like Ananias? Maybe this Sunday you can welcome a person who might otherwise never come back. Maybe you can welcome someone who is not yet convinced that God exists. Maybe you can welcome someone whom God will use to preach his gospel to the Gentiles.
Lord, today when we hear you calling to reach out to someone unlike us, give us the grace you gave Ananias. Help us to see new converts as our brothers and sisters. Amen.
See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!