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Welcome the Stranger

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:2

As a little girl, whenever I visited my grandparents in the village in Kenya, I was amazed to see how generous they were.  They did not just feed their own large family that lived in the homestead.  But whenever, a stranger went by the house in the daytime and the family was having lunch, my grandmother would invite them in for a meal or for a glass of water.  On more than one occasion the stranger took up the offer.  It was a wonderful thing to see a total stranger joining the family for a meal and conversation and before they left to continue on their journey, a firm friendship was formed.  My grandparents were not rich people, but they never lacked food or friends either.  Their home was always brimming with both.   I would like to believe, that God rewarded their generosity by meeting their every need according to his riches in Christ Jesus.

These are fear-filled and troubling times.  Many people are looking for answers and for direction.  For the believer, that compass is always the word of God.  The days are not as innocent as they once were, and one must exercise caution, but God’s word is clear, welcome the stranger (Deut. 10:19; Heb. 13:1; Romans 12:13).  God instructs the children of Israel saying, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:34).”

Abraham and Sarah welcomed the three visitors by the Oak of Mamre.  After showering the visitors with hospitality, they received good news, that even in their old age, God was going to bless them with a child and Abraham would become father of a great nation (Genesis 18: 1-19).  The widow of Zarephath, welcomed Elijah.  She used her last supply of flour and oil to make him a meal.  She did this with the full knowledge that she and her son were going to die of hunger.  She too, received good news as a consequence of her generosity, Elijah announced to her that her jar of flour would never run out and her jug of oil would never run dry.

As Christians, we do not give to get.  We give because Christ has given us so much.  We give because Christ's love compels us.  We give because we have nothing of our own, only that which Christ has given us.  Today, God wants us to welcome the stranger with love, kindness, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, shelter, food, clothing and so much more.  The world is afraid, and is screaming, “Keep the stranger out!”  Jesus says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2).  Know this, that whatsoever, we do for the stranger, good or bad, we do unto Jesus himself.  There are two choices here.  One is easy and the other is tough, which one will you pick?

Dear Father, the closed fist cannot receive your blessing. Thank you for showing me, by your death on the cross, what it means to give it all away.  Now guide me by the power of your spirit to the stranger who needs your blessing and then give me the courage to obey you.  Amen.