This is a time of year that provides our church family with another opportunity to choose where our focus will be. As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, we tend to “get back to basics” and “focus on the things that are truly important” such as “family and friends.” I suggest that this is the perfect season in the life of our church to rededicate ourselves to an outward looking focus. As I fight the tendency to close my heart off to those who are not in my inner circle, I remember scriptures such as…
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” Matthew 25:35 - Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7 - Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9 - Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2
According to Merriam Webster, this is “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” This invitation is even for those who don’t have the spiritual gift of hospitality. We are to do so without grumbling (how about sighing loudly?) and to make matters even more uncomfortable, we are to be hospitable specifically to those who are not in our families and inner circle of friends.
Why should we receive and welcome strangers? Two reasons. 1) because Christ Himself has welcomed us and 2) because when we accept others, we are accepting Jesus. The good news is that, both individually and corporately, our church family does do this. I have been approached by many of you wishing to help families in our church who need assistance. We have seen Rooted, a ministry to provide a place for young adults who may not know many other believers, begin this Fall.
How can you put this Biblical principle into practice over the next six weeks? Perhaps you can spend five minutes before/after each worship service greeting our guests or getting to know those in our church family you don’t know. Perhaps you can offer to meet with a church member outside your Small Group for prayer or invite them to sit with your family next Sunday during our Thanksgiving Meal. Perhaps you can take some cookies to a few of your neighbors, and invite them to one of our worship services in December. Prayerfully consider how you can open your heart to “strangers” and, in doing so, receive Christ anew this season.