There is a principle taught repeatedly throughout the Bible about how we should treat others. Simply stated, it is that we should: (1) put ourselves in the place of those around us, (2) ask ourselves how we would want to be treated, and (3) treat them in that way. Before the exodus, the Jews had been strangers in Egypt. As they left the land of bondage and headed for the Promised Land, God spoke of the strangers who would soon live among them. “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 23:9). Because they had once been strangers, they had “the heart of a stranger” and were able to know how to treat others.
In view of the many visitors who come our way, we need to put ourselves in the place of visitors. Having the “heart of a visitor” we must treat others as we would have them treat us (Matt. 7:12).
If I were a visitor, I would want to be welcomed from the time I got out of my car. Every week, greet every person you see as you walk toward the building. If you do not know them, introduce yourself, and let them know you are so glad they have chosen to come to visit.
If I were a visitor, I would want to be welcomed from the time I entered the foyer. There is that awkward moment when anyone enters a new building and is overwhelmed by the fact that so many “belong” in the foyer and are so happy to see each other, while the visitor has no sense of belonging. Every week, but especially next week, have the “heart of a visitor” and make them feel comfortable and sense they are in a place of warm Christian friends.
If I were a visitor, I would want to be welcomed from the time I entered the auditorium. Those Christians, who demand their “end pew seats” and force visitors to climb over them to sit, send a silent message to visitors. Those Christians who readily move and give up their seats also send a silent message. Jesus rebuked those who “love the chief seats in the synagogue,” and many Christians fail to listen to Him.
If I were a visitor, I would want to be welcomed and greeted before and after worship. Letting visitors know with friendly words and warm smiles we are glad they have come is so important. Before spending time visiting with each other, we must spend time with those we do not know. This is a vital part of having the “heart of a visitor.”
Great opportunities surround us. God help us to do all we can to touch the lives of those who enter our services. How we treat them can make an eternal difference!