Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in ...
(Stephen Curtis Chapman, "When Love Takes You In" from the Declaration Album, 2001.)

Have you ever known what it was like to be on the outside looking in? Or were you ever chosen last when everyone was choosing teams? Or were you one of a few not invited to the party?

So many people live on the outside ... even a lot of those who are in the "in group" or have clawed their way to the top of the social ladder. There is a God-shaped hole in all of us that only the presence of God's Spirit can truly fill. The one who dies with the most toys still dies alone while everyone plays with his or toys.

While the grace of God in Jesus is glorious beyond description, real people must demonstrate that grace. We all need these real people to bring us in and share with us the love that Jesus gave people when he walked this earth. Deep down, all of us are a bit like the little girl who would not go to bed simply because her father told her God would take care of her. She told her dad that she needed "God with skin on," and promptly climbed in bed with her parents.

We must be an open, welcoming, hospitable, and warm people.
The church is to be an open circle of friends (cf. John 15:13-15) that have gathered around Jesus to share his love with others who find them outside of other circles. Paul commanded the Christians in Rome, "Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified." (Romans 15:7 NLT) A part of the early Christian lifestyle was the practice of gracious hospitality. (1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:2)

So what's the point? Very simple: we must be an open, welcoming, hospitable, and warm people. It doesn't matter our culture — we are to be a station of God's counter-culture of grace. It doesn't matter our personality type — the Holy Spirit's fruit is to be seen in our lives by its demonstration to others. It doesn't matter our age in the Lord — the joy of being chosen, of being brought in to the circle of grace, must make us open to those outside who need that grace.

So ... remember that you were brought in by the grace and love of God. Make sure new Christians, travelers on the road looking for other believers have a welcome place with you. Ensure that those who are on the fringes of fellowship feel the touch of Jesus because your love has brought them into the circle of grace. Help the lonely to see that everything can change because you have brought them in and they have experienced the love of God's forever family.