I am not a people person. What I mean is that I am a shy introvert. I am more comfortable behind a keyboard than at a social gathering. Yet God has asked me to be uncomfortable and to reach outside my family to connect with others and be a people person. Sometimes I get shocked responses when I tell someone I am an introvert because in public I try to be friendly and personable to everyone. Years ago my wife and I opened our home to serve and host others in the community. I have learned much about reaching out and being welcoming to people I meet in the community. I am convinced that this is the duty of all those called by God and who take on the name of Christian. It is not hard. Listen more than you talk and take people as they are.
Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome is warning the young church about judging because this kind of judgement causes separation. Paul does not want this church to be cut off from the community in Rome. Specifically, he addresses the Jews who are now Christian warning them to not bring the bad habits of their culture forward into the Church of Christ.
24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Romans 2:24 ESV
William Barclay in his commentary of Romans paints a very unflattering picture of how the Jewish people were despised by the average Roman citizen. The Jewish people had all kinds of special dispensations given to them by the Roman government that other people did not have. Worse yet the Jewish people had a reputation for being rude and hostile to outsiders. For example, Barclay writes that Jewish peoples were allowed to honor the Sabbath. They flaunted this rule and made the Gentile community work around their schedule. The Jews were then called lazy by those inconvenienced. This Sabbath allowance extended even to the military. Because of the Sabbath rules Jews made for bad soldiers so they were exempt from conscription into the army. One might imagine the political ramification of such an unfair imbalance among the population. Reading the gospels, it is clear that the disciples did not like Rome and wanted Jesus to kick the Romans out but on the flip side the average Gentile did not like the closed community of Jews either. General unfriendliness went both ways.
6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ Exodus 19:6a
God intended that the Jewish people, the nation that He called and blessed would be a priest that could point the entire world toward God. Paul desired that the Church in Rome would be able to fulfill that role. Here Peter puts into words what Paul may have been thinking in his letter to Rome.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV
Today I try to live this kind of life before the community. I want more than anything for God to be glorified. I want the community I live into to know the grace and mercy that comes from God. Whatever good deeds I may do in service to others is motivated by my desire to glorify God. If you are called by God and claim the mantel of Christian then maybe it is time to host a party at your house for your neighbors. Be gracious and listen to them. You may just find Jesus at work in their lives. Maybe it is time for Christians to join Jesus at work.