One of the more stirring statements I have heard recently is that the disciples belonged before they believed. As we read through the gospels, we see over and over again that they really did not know who Jesus was, even though His words and deeds had a powerful impact on them.
Eventually we do hear this statement from Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16: 16).
You would think that among the group of guys called to fill the significant role of becoming the original twelve disciples, this would have come up sooner. I am sure most of us would have quizzed this potential group of followers more closely than Jesus did, until we knew for sure that they agreed upon this one vitally important belief— that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. Instead, Jesus accepted them and invited them to belong, and in their journey with Him, they became believers.
They belonged before they believed.
I wonder what would happen in our communities if we erased the line between us and them and treated people with honor before their conversion? What would it look like to become a community of believers (a city on a hill) that welcomed all travelers, knowing that some would make this city their home? It makes me wonder if we might see people come to Christ as the only possible conclusion to their journey with us of learning how to reign in life.
What would it be like to have that impact on them as the ones from whom they sought shelter?