Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (Romans 15:7 ESV).
Friend to Friend
Nestled 50 feet off Highway 17 in Pawley’s Island, S.C., rests C.J.’s Beach Club. For years, Steve and I eyed the clapboard building tucked in the grove of myrtle trees, but it wasn’t the sort of place we would tend to visit. One weekend it was just the two of us on a short holiday at the beach, and we were feeling adventurous. Steve turned the car onto the crushed-oyster-shell parking lot of C.J’s, and we decided to taste the local nightlife of the coastal South.
C.J.’s was a dance club. Now, before you click delete in shock that we would darken the doors of such a place, I want you to stay with me a moment. We grew up doing a dance called “The Shag,” which is like an East Coast swing. This was shag night at C.J.’s, and the disc jockey spinning the 45s was about 75 years old and had a striking resemblance to my mother-in-law.
Steve and I felt a bit uncomfortable as we walked through the doors and noted the neon signs advertising various drinks, but we were committed. All eyes turned toward the new couple as we walked across the threshold…there was no turning back. The smell of popcorn laced with cigarette smoke filled the air as middle-aged couples shuffled their feet to old beach music under the spinning disco ball.
We each ordered a Coke and found a seat. It wasn’t two minutes before a couple wandered over to our table and sat down.
“Hi, I’m Tom,” the fortysomething man said as he extended his hand to Steve. “And this is my wife, Julie. We’ve never seen you here before. Do you live around here?”
As soon as they walked away, another couple sat down, and the same friendly banter ensued. Then another couple…then another. By the time we left C.J.’s, we felt as though we had been welcomed into the family. We knew about families, college alma maters, and occupations. We had walked in as wary strangers and walked away as warm friends.
“Y’all come back when you’re down this way again,” several called out as we made our way to the door.
As we drove away in silence with the sound of oyster shells crunching under our tires, sadness washed over me. “I have been in many churches in my time, but never one that was as welcoming and warm as those folks were tonight,” I whispered. “We have a lot to learn.” Steve felt the same.
All through the New Testament, we are reminded to love one another (John 13:34), accept and welcome one another (Romans 15:7), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32). Paul even tells believers in his day to greet one another “with a holy kiss” (2 Corinthians 13:12). For us in our culture, that could mean a good ol’ hug or a hardy handshake.
What struck me about the dance club was that no one said, “Now turn and greet someone around you.” It was simply spontaneous, genuine interest.
What is going to attract the world to the church and ultimately a relationship with Jesus Christ? Genuine interest, caring, and concern. More than a theological debate, modern facilities, or the latest media-savvy services, loving relationships are the net that casts out and gathers in a bounty of souls. Simple kindness reflects the heart of God to a weary world.
Friend, let me be the first to love on you today. You are amazing. I love doing life with you. I want to know you better. Click here to hop over to my blog space and pretend I’m a stranger. Click on “comment” at the end of this devotion and tell me 5 things you’d like me to know about you!
Heavenly Father, I want to be known as a woman who welcomes others. Show me someone today that needs an encouraging word or a hug—someone who needs to feel the love of Christ.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Think of 5 ways that you can be a bit friendlier to strangers this week.
Don’t forget to click here and tell me 5 things you want me to know about you!
More From the Girlfriends
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life. In The Power of a Woman’s Words learn how to tame your tongue and speak life to those around you. This book also has a companion study guide that is perfect for women’s Bible study groups!
© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.