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Love Like Jesus

Arms Open Wide

Arms Open Wide

by Matt Henslee
- Gospel, Hospitality, Love

Mayhill Baptist gets guests all the time. Thankfully, many of them eventually join. Down to a few core families upon my arrival, we made outreach and welcoming guests a priority. Over time, the church ran with it, and Mayhill Baptist became a welcoming and loving church.

Sometimes the guests look and act and dress like us. Sometimes they don’t. I’m exceedingly grateful to say our folks don’t worry about that––they simply extend a hand or a hug and an offer to sit by them. Because of this, we’ve had everything from business people to recovering drug addicts in our lil mountain church.

I tend to think of it as a bit of a tapestry God is weaving. Threads of all colors, ages, and histories––all being sewn together as one big tapestry of grace in Mayhill, New Mexico. Ya know, kinda like Paul writes about in Ephesians 4. Take verses 15 & 16, for example:

“But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ. From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part” (CSB).

In that chapter (well, to be honest, in many of them), Paul makes a big deal about that whole loving one another thing. I’ve been preaching through 1st John, and that’s a big theme there, too. What’s more, Jesus added that after loving “the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” is the commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39 CSB).

Paul, John, and Jesus made this call to love a pretty high calling, so maybe––just maybe––we ought to heed it! I’m grateful Mayhill Baptist took this call as part of our DNA. Recently, we had a Vietnam vet start attending. Rough around the edges, a heavy past, but he came. And he was welcomed with arms open wide.

Last Sunday, I had the joy of baptizing him the week after he trusted Jesus. That afternoon, he left a long message on our answering machine. He thought the “roof would cave in” should he ever come inside a church. Not only did our roof survive, but our folks also welcomed him, loved him, and extended grace to him––kinda like Jesus.

When we remember God knows everything we’ve ever done, are doing, and will ever do––and yet, loved us enough to send Jesus to save us, a true Christian can’t help but model the same. It becomes a part of our DNA. You know, the whole we love because He first loved us kinda thing (1 John 4:19).

If you want to love like Jesus, that means loving the unlovable. That should be the mark of our lives, our homes, and our churches. After all, Jesus said “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 CSB).

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