Love the Stranger
Love New People
Love New People
Last week we discussed how to love those people that persecute us the people that are hard to love. We discussed several categories these people could fall in to and how to each of them. This week we are going to look at how to love the strangers or acquaintances.
Sometimes it can be very hard to show love to a stranger, even more difficult than showing love to a persecutor. The struggle can be just the lack of need to even talk to someone we do not know. This is so prevalent in our society the very art of small talk is becoming scarce. When we are in line to get food or see a movie there is not a “need” to talk to anyone except the person we are placing our order with so we may just keep to ourselves. There are lots of motivating factors for us to just kind of keep to ourselves. Some of these motivations is fear of how the other person may interact with us, embarrassment at how awkward we can all be, concern for someone misinterpreting being friendly as something else, being tired and not feeling like talking to some one, or just too busy to get in to a conversation. There is still one very good reason we should interact with other people, we are to love them.
We find this wonderful description of our Heavenly Father in 17 “For יהוה your Elohim is Elohim of mighty ones and Master of masters, the great Ěl, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
18 “He executes right-ruling for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and a garment.
Then what does he tell us in verse 19? 19 “And you shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Mitsrayim.
So clearly from the beginning we have this established this idea that our Heavenly Father loves strangers and what is more he expects us too as well. To be clear this is not saying we should trust unconditionally every stranger we see as well everyone should understand we are not to follow the stranger. We are to care for, be helpful to and friendly to the stranger.
Consider how different this is than the message of the world. The world would tell you of stranger danger and to fear the one you do not know, yet it would have you also trust the word of the outsider completely and lead one away from what is right. The Father tells us while the stranger is with us to be friendly and supportive but not to follow after them. What happens if we are friendly to the stranger? What happens when we are helpful to them? At some point they cease to be strangers and become friends. In fact this seems likely to be the goal the entire time. From the beginning the Father intended for us to be gathered and included in his family. Well then we start as strangers first and become friends then finally family as we progress through this relationship with the father.
If such is true that we start as strangers and become part of the family of G-d then it seems this idea of changing from stranger to friend is the path of salvation as a whole. To be clear it is not the mechanism of Salvation but it is the path of accepting Salvation. It is accepting it in a real way that is present in our actions and not just intellectually. Many people know that Salvation is found in the sacrifice of Yeshua for our SINs but it is in the acceptance of this sacrifice that changes us from being strangers to the Messiah to instead family with the Messiah that is the path of Salvation.
It should be no surprise that this idea of moving from stranger to friend through the sacrificial atonement of Yeshua can be found in the Torah. After all Yeshua was completely obedient to Torah. 43 And יהוה said to Mosheh and Aharon, “This is the law of the Passover: No son of a stranger is to eat of it,
44 but any servant a man has bought for silver, when you have circumcised him, then let him eat of it.
45 “A sojourner and a hired servant does not eat of it.
46 “It is eaten in one house, you are not to take any of the flesh outside the house, nor are you to break any bone of it.
47 “All the congregation of Yisra’ěl are to perform it.
48 “And when a stranger sojourns with you and shall perform the Passover to יהוה, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and perform it, and he shall be as a native of the land. But let no uncircumcised eat of it.
49 “There is one Torah for the native-born and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”
Here we see the stranger that sojourns among the children of Israel become as the native of the land. This can be a little confusing at first we read they cannot eat of the Passover then we read they can eat of the passover. I think the idea here is if there is a stranger and they are choosing to remain a stranger then they do not get to participate in the passover and the blessings of the native born. If however they are circumcised and thus become strangers no more then they are like the native born.
We read even more of this concept of moving from stranger to friend as part of the salvation process in 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah יהושׁע unto good works, which Elohim prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
11 Therefore remember that you, once gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called ‘the circumcision’ made in the flesh by hands,
12 that at that time you were without Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Yisra’ěl and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no expectation and without Elohim in the world.
13 But now in Messiah יהושׁע you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.
We are no longer strangers as part of the receiving of Salvation through the blood of Yeshua. We are no longer excluded from the citizenship of Israel we are no longer strangers from the covenant instead we have been been brought near by the blood of Yeshua. We are no longer strangers we are family.
So if we who where once strangers have become friends and family to not only each other but also with our Heavenly Father through the process of receiving Salvation, how much more so should we be ready to treat strangers as friends and welcome them and aid them in their times of need. Some of us may say I am shy or I do not feel comfortable to extend my hand first. I am glad to speak but only if they speak to me first. How did we receive salvation by extending our hand first or by our savior extending his first. So to should we be friendly and break the ice sometimes to be friendly to the stranger. In this process we may be aiding in the very work of the Father and his servants. The very famous verse in reminds us of this. 2 Do not forget to receive strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained messengers (angels).
So far we have some very good reasons to be loving to strangers. 1st We read in Our Heavenly Father takes care of the stranger and he expects us to as well. 2nd Moving from stranger to family is part of the process of receiving Salvation. So in doing so we are celebrating the very act of Salvation and helping someone to be ready for it. 3rd We where strangers and are now part of the covenant with Israel. 4th We participate in support of the ministry of our Heavenly Father to his people.
The last reason we should be loving to strangers is arguably the most important and it also gives us ways to be loving to strangers. 31 “And when the Son of Adam comes in His esteem, and all the set-apart messengers with Him, then He shall sit on the throne of His esteem.
32 “And all the nations shall be gathered before Him, and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats.
33 “And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 “Then the Sovereign shall say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the reign prepared for you from the foundation of the world—
35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in,
36 was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37 “Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, ‘Master, when did we see You hungry and we fed You, or thirsty and gave You to drink?
38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger and took You in, or naked and clothed You?
39 ‘And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and we came to You?’
40 “And the Sovereign shall answer and say to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, in so far as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’
41 “He shall then also say to those on the left hand, ‘Go away from Me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his messengers—
42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink,
43 ‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, was naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also shall answer Him, saying, ‘Master, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not serve You?’
45 “Then He shall answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, in so far as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
46 “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life.”
We will one day be judged for it. Is there any person less than the lonely and unnoticed? Is there anyone more strange than one who is foreign and does not know our customs? Yet when we tend to these least of all people we are tending to the very one who saved us from our SIN and atoned for our SIN.
This is also a pattern for how to love people. To provide to the needy materially and to provide for the needy emotionally. Who is more needy emotionally than the stranger?
In closing it becomes obvious very quickly our Heavenly Father expects us to be loving to the stranger. The answer to why is also obvious. We greatly resemble our Messiah when we are loving to the stranger.