Welcome Mats

Several years ago I taught a series in which I talked about the hypocrisy of welcome mats. I stumbled back across the series the other day and was reminded of the illustration.

Kari and I don't have a welcome mat on our front porch that says "Welcome." You shouldn't either. In fact, when you walk into a home that has a big mat out front that says "Welcome," you ought to be utterly and personally offended because your hosts really don't mean it.

What the mat ought to say is "Welcome, but not like that." Fix yourself up, clean yourself off, and then you're welcome in my house. You're welcome once you meet the standard of what I find acceptable in my house, namely clean feet. Until then, "Stay Out."

Welcome mats only tell part of the story.

I wonder if sometimes we're not like that, especially in our churches? We tell people they're welcome, but have several provisions of what that it takes to be deserving of an actual welcome. Our sign says, "everyone welcome," but when the homeless guy comes in smelling like urine, we're surprised that he doesn't recognize the welcome doesn't apply to him. The teenager who is pregnant "out of wedlock" doesn't recognize that the welcome applies to her.

I'm not talking about being soft on sin or shy about tackling difficult issues. I'm also not talking about being at a place where we compromise safety in order to accommodate "messy" people. I am talking about dealing with those issues the same way Jesus dealt with us - sacrificing Himself to meet our need. Moving toward us when we were despicable.

The problem is, so many of the things that cause us to "unwelcome" people have nothing to do with Jesus. That's the part I'm hoping we can re-think.