How to “Choose Up Sides” in Church

Romans 15:7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

It’s happening on playgrounds all around our country today… and it happens in churches too. Groups get ready to choose up sides and someone is chosen last. “Arrrggghhh!” as Charlie Brown used to say — what a terrible feeling to be unwanted and unwelcomed.

Paul says we are to “receive one another” — I do it for you and you do it for me. In the New Testament this means:

  1. to take or receive someone/something to oneself, to admit, or to receive;
  2. to take someone aside for a private conversation; or
  3. to welcome/accept someone as a close friend.

And Paul says I am to do this “as Christ received” me! In Him I find what many spend a lifetime searching for: someone who will “choose me” every time. Someone who treats me like I am His favorite. Someone who does not allow disagreements or barriers to create distance between us. Someone who isn’t preoccupied with himself or his needs — but who has time to listen to me. Someone I do not have to be afraid of. Someone whose motives are genuine — He will not use me and then lose me.

How can I do that for someone else? If Jesus accepts me, I can afford to give to others without expecting a return on my investment. After all, He gave all for me — with no cost to me, but at great cost to Himself. I can set my heart to be like Jesus to others.

  • I can trust that God is at work in every person I encounter. I can look for the hand of God in every heart — that qualifies a person to be treated with care by me. I can place my faith in God’s working, not in people — they will let me down, but if God is at work in them… I think I can be willing to be hurt by those I accept.
  • I can act as if all conditions for intimacy were already fulfilled. I don’t have to make people earn my acceptance or love.
  • I can cover areas of offense or disagreement with love.
  • I can ask questions to know people on the deepest level. I can avoid the superficial encounters.
  • I can take people to others and introduce them — facilitating their acceptance into a group.
  • I can talk about people to others and tell their story.
  • I can be intentional about including others in the ministry of my church by giving them a job to do — so they will gain a sense of belonging.

I suspect most of us feel like the kid on the playground that never gets picked to play. Remember today that Jesus always chooses you — so now you go choose someone else. Go ahead — you’re already on the best team! Make a difference — welcome someone into your life with warmth and affection.

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