I recently walked up to a house with a nice “welcome” sign on the door. That is supposed to tell me something about these people and how they think of my presence there on their doorstep. I felt good. Welcomed, of course.
Then I looked down and saw another sign in small print:
Absolutely no solicitors.
Leave nothing at the door!
All violators will be reported to the police.
The underline was there. So was the exclamation point.
Their welcome sign had a small-font footnote attached to it. Any warm feelings I had from their 7-letter “welcome” sign were eaten up by the 58 ensuing ones (give-or-take. I only counted once). Their home essentially said, “welcome, but…”
I’m not writing to trash these folks (‘though that sign is ridiculous and should come down. At least one of them, because one cancels out the other). It actually makes me wonder, what are the fine-print disclaimers to the welcome of my life? What are the conditions of friendship that I set up for people? Who am I smiling at with my face but excluding in my heart and with my schedule?
Christians are called to “welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed you” (Romans 15:7). Our disposition toward others is to be a reflection of Christ’s toward us. How does Christ welcome us? The cross isn’t cluttered with disclaimers and fine print. It doesn’t say, “welcome, but…” He doesn’t even wait for us to step up to the door; he comes out and gets us like the prodigal father, running bare-kneed, robe flying, toward his wayward son.
He once told a story of what his kingdom is like. He said it was like a wedding feast. “Tell those who are invited, ‘See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready” (Matt 22:4). And who did he bring up to the door? “Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find'” (Matt. 22:9). Any are welcome. No disclaimers. He gives himself as a friend to any who will have him. Good news to enjoy. And good news to reflect.