Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
“You will receive a rich welcome.” What a warm, compelling phrase. Who wouldn’t want such a greeting?
I remember about eight years back travelling with my wife all the way to England to meet our son. He’d spent more than half a year away from home studying at Bible school, the longest period we had ever been separated from him up to that point. We were so eager to see him. We landed in London, got our rental car, and started the long trek up to the northern part of the country. Driving on the wrong side of the road presented its own challenges, but what was most pressing was the intensifying eagerness for reunion, growing steadily over the five-to-six-hour drive. The last portion involved very narrow roads, bordered by hedgerows leaning so close they threatened to attack the car! But we pressed on. Much is a blur. We didn’t arrive until after dark. But what I remember most distinctly is meeting up with our son on the school’s lawn and falling into one of the greatest bear hugs of my life. A rich welcome indeed!
When the kingdom of God comes in all its fullness, that’s the kind of welcome I want. Rich, warm, loving. Full acceptance. Strong embrace. To be welcomed by my Lord into his kingdom knowing that he was expecting me and eagerly anticipating my arrival.
That’s exactly what this scripture tells me is the assured reality for those who persevere in Christ. We’re meant to press on in Jesus, being “all the more eager” to live in the reality of the calling he has placed on our lives. Peter has urged us to pursue faith and goodness and knowledge and self-control and perseverance and godliness and brotherly kindness and love, all spurred on by this joy set before us of a “rich welcome” into the kingdom. It’s not that through these things we earn acceptance with our Lord, but rather that we are able to step more fully – more deeply – into relationship with him as we embrace these qualities. And relationship spills over into rich welcome.
It’s something Jesus himself spoke about often. We hear it in some of his most familiar stories:
The persevering servant is embraced by the Master: “Well done, good and faithful servant! … Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, 23). The five virgins waiting at the door, patient and ready, find themselves welcomed to the wedding banquet, ushered in by the bridegroom himself (Matthew 25:1-13). When the King threw a wedding feast for his son, those who had no expectation of invitation find themselves in the King’s sights as he commands his servants: “Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” The result? “The wedding hall was filled with guests” (Matthew 22:9-10).
Jesus tells us this welcoming reality already fills all of heaven – though we can’t yet hear it, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). Feet on earth, he demonstrated that same welcome as he silenced his disciples’ objections and eagerly proclaimed, “Let the little children come to me …” (Mark 10:14); and again, when he invited himself to Zaccheus’ home; and again, as he ate with tax-collectors and sinners; and again and again and again. Indeed, one of his best loved stories forever rivets the truth in our minds, as we see the father running down the road to embrace his lost son – the son who had offended him so grievously; the son he still loved with all his heart. We see the son being embraced in a bear hug and unreservedly welcomed home, with a magnificent banquet thrown in his honour.
It captures my sights. It motivates my heart. I look forward with joy – confidently in my Lord. I want to be “all the more eager” in my devotion to him.
Lord Jesus, thank you that the work you have begun in my life you will carry on to completion until that day. I look forward to the rich welcome into your kingdom. Praise your name.
Take some time to set your sights on that day of “rich welcome.”Imagine what that experience will be like. What will you see? What will you feel? Pause several times during the day to lift your sights again.
Photo by Josue Escoto on Unsplash