Leviticus 19:34, Ruth 2:5-12, Matthew 25:35-36, John 4:1-26, Acts 16:6-10
It can be difficult to remember this truth: we were all strangers in the land of Egypt (Leviticus 19:34). Until we encounter the miraculous liberation of God, each and every one of us is captive in a land of darkness and oppression.
We live in the age of the refugee. January 1, 2016, saw well over 65 million people forcibly displaced worldwide. I dare say that number has increased significantly in the past twelve months. Not a day goes by that we don’t read headlines about a global tragedy.
It’s easy to become so wrapped up in “the issues” that we ultimately forget about the individual mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons displaced around the globe. If we’re not careful, our hearts grow callous and we see their plight as an inconvenience, or perhaps as a threat to our own comfort and safety.
The truth is, apart from the mysterious hospitality of God, any one of us could be spiritual and physical wanderers – wayfarers with no place to lay our head or to call home.
Jesus has invited us to love the stranger among us, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to forgive our enemies. Between strangers and neighbors and enemies, I guess that means we’re called to love everyone. I don’t see too many loopholes here when it comes to sacrificially offering hospitality to those in need.
It’s important for us to wrestle with these injustices and our place in all of it. We were lost, but now we’re found. Scripture tells us that here on earth, no matter our level of comfort, we are not home. Like Jesus throughout the course of His entire public ministry, we’re not meant to feel entirely settled or finally at rest.
God stepped out of His heavenly throne room and into our broken world to rescue all those who would hear His voice. As we follow Him further and further out of darkness and into the light, we are called to help those we can along the way. For some of these “strangers,” that might mean spiritual encouragement and investment; for others it might mean physically going out of our way to try to provide for a simple felt need.
When we seek to offer hospitality to the stranger, we honor God. Whether that stranger is a newcomer at your church, a new hire at work, or a new immigrant in your community, in offering hospitality and love, we experience intimacy with God. This is a divine mystery, but one Jesus Himself confirms: “I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
You were a stranger in the land of Egypt. Now, if your faith is in Christ, you walk the path to the Promised Land. Give aid, love freely, and live generously along the way. When we open our hearts to the stranger, Jesus tells us that we open our hearts to Him.
Written By Andrew Stoddard