Welcoming our neighbors

Amid hope for a better life, initial entry into a new community can be challenging for both immigrants and their new neighbors. The article on the facing page opens a window into the community of Clarkston, Georgia, showing how it deals, in many cases successfully, with the challenges of integrating a large immigrant population. The welcome of the church fathers at the former Clarkston Baptist Church (now the Clarkston International Bible Church) is not to be overlooked. Letting the Scripture, “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people” (Ephesians 2:19, New International Version) guide it, this church is finding fresh ways to engage with the newcomers of its growing community.

Barriers to connections between neighbors fall when we understand God’s perpetual love for all His children. The welcoming embrace of divine Love extends without limit—and it isn’t fleeting. Divine Love leaves no one out. The kingdom of God is where everyone belongs, because we are each made by Him.

The Bible teaches that we are each the reflection of God. This means each one of us has an essential role to play in expressing God’s embrace of our neighbors. Reflection involves expressing God’s love for all. This could include demonstrating qualities such as receptivity, openness, appreciation, a valuing of one another, loving hospitality, and respect. A sincere welcome to our neighbor, springing from a deep well of sincerity and from gratitude for God’s goodness in our lives, inspires both the giver and the receiver and even offers healing.

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Safe in the ark
March 21, 2016

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