While walking across my high school campus, a friend said, “Ron Newfield is looking for you.” Ron was a grad student that I had seen talking to some of my friends. I didn’t know him, but I heard that he was a very cool guy. I remember feeling flattered that he sought me out. Months later, he was the guy who pointed me to Christ.
Throughout the Scriptures, God pursues us to come into a relationship with himself. He pursued Adam and Eve even after they sinned. He pursued Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He repeatedly forgave and sought out people who were lost, far from him, and without hope. And then as his people, the Israelites were “to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19) They were to show “love for strangers,” to display the heart of God. And then to crown it all, Jesus said of himself, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
No one is a stranger to God. He knows every person before they are formed in the womb (Psalm 139). And though he knows that every one of us will rebel against him, he still loves us and sacrificed His Son to reconcile us to himself. (Romans 5:8)
Jesus’ example is our model for how to treat strangers. The New Testament word translated as “hospitality” is a compound word that means “loving strangers.” We are to show kindness and meet the needs of strangers because every person matters to God.
‘Loving strangers’ is the purpose of some Sunday morning teams at Trinity Church. Our greeters, welcome center, food and follow-up teams all look for people that they can welcome and assist. Their goal is “to help Trinity church be the warmest place people have been all week.” These volunteers don’t know what others bring or what their needs and feelings are, but they strive to show each person that God loves them and that they are included in our family.
Every follower of Christ has opportunities to reach out to strangers. In our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools, we are called to be the ‘includes’ of other people. Showing them the kindness of God is what we do because of who we are “in Christ.” We are God’s agents, passing along the love and kindness of God. For “in Christ” we are “no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19).
By Steve Springstead, Pastor of Community Life