The Way of Embrace
Welcome people as Jesus has welcomed you.
A few months ago something strange happened on an airplane bound for Los Angeles. The actress Amy Adams was shooting a new film in Detroit and boarded the L.A.-bound plane—seated in first class, of course. When Adams noticed an American soldier being seated in coach, she decided to do something that she's always just thought about doing. Another first class passenger, who happened to be a reporter, noticed Adams quietly ask the airline crew permission to switch seats with the soldier, whom she didn't know. Adams slipped back to coach, and the surprised soldier, who had no idea who was behind it, moved up to first class. When the plane landed in L.A., the reporter immediately started tweeting about Adams' kind deed. When reporters asked Adams about it, she explained that her father was a serviceman and then she said, "I didn't do it for attention for myself. I did it for attention for the troops."
Isn't that just a nice, heartwarming story? Journalists call this a "man bites dog story." There are plenty of stories about dogs biting a man, but when a man bites a dog … now that's special. But hearing about Amy Adams' simple, kind gesture makes me wonder: Wouldn't it be great if this happened all the time? Wouldn't it be great if a whole community of people cared for each other in quiet but surprising ways like this? Wouldn't it be great if in that community the strong cared for the weak? Wouldn't it be great to belong to a community where people didn't rank you by status—whether by race, class, wealth, beauty, or education?
According to our reading from the book of Romans this morning, there is such a place—at least there's supposed to be such a place. It's called the church. It's the community ...
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Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).