Have you ever entertained an angel? I’m not talking about singing them a song or telling them a joke. No, Hebrews 13:1 says “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Most of us have never met some light-filled being with wings but almost all of us have had a moment when God showed up unexpectedly in the form of someone we didn’t know.
The Bible talks about that a lot actually. In Leviticus, the Israelite’s are given a non-negotiable command. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” In the gospel of Matthew Jesus talks about a moment in heaven that will happen down the road. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me in. “Wait a second Lord,” the confused people will ask. “When did we welcome you in?” And Jesus will say “whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.”
We all know we’re supposed to love our neighbors, but the Bible has a habit of defining “neighbor” very broadly.
Since the year 2000, nearly a million refugees have come to the United States to escape political or religious persecution. Last year, the largest percentage of them came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia but there are refugees from 79 different nations currently living in the U.S.
In addition to these refugees who have come to the U.S. due to persecution, there are approximately thirty-two million document immigrants currently living in the United States. A handful of them are wealthy, educated, or both, but many of them are here because the circumstances in their own country are so bad that they are desperate to find a place of safety and hope and that’s exactly how they see us and our country.
But what about us…how do we see them? Do we see them as God’s children? Do we see an opportunity to make a friend and share God’s love? Are we taking the clue that Jesus provided us, and seeing our opportunity to bless them as an opportunity to bless Jesus himself. Let’s not rob them or ourselves of that opportunity.
This January let’s see what we can do to make a friend, to entertain an angel, and to welcome Jesus himself into our midst.
Pastor, First Baptist Church-Wilmington NC