Strangers in My Boat
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2
Since we moved to Minnesota more than 20 years ago, we’ve been fortunate enough to live on the lake where we own a boat and spend our summers on the water. A few summers ago, we we’re parked at a public dock with our boat when I was approached by an out-of-place couple. The largest town nearby has seen a large immigration of Somalis over the last 20 years, which has become a normal part of life – while in that larger town. In our smaller town on the lake though, we don’t see them nearly as much. But there they were that day, a young Muslim couple, standing on the dock looking at my boat.
Can you take a picture of us in your boat? I said yes, and they stepped in, getting their picture. As they got out and walked away, I was left standing there in some bewilderment at the event. I didn’t think of it at the time, but later it hit me. I should have offered to take them for a ride around the lake with my family. I’ve always regretted that lost opportunity and whenever we park at that dock now, I wonder if they’ll be back, but I missed it and I’ve never seen them again.
Today’s passage reminds us of this principle. In it, the author of Hebrews said that, as Christians, we must not neglect showing hospitality to strangers. It goes on to say that in doing so, some have entertained angels, unaware of it. You could say that the passage is only referring to hospitality to other Christians. Jesus himself taught though, that we must love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27). He also said that how we welcome strangers – feeding the hungry and clothing the naked – is how we welcome (or don’t welcome) Jesus himself. The world will know we are Christians by our love (John 13:35).
It is in loving those around us, welcoming them into our lives, that we’re able to share the love that God has shown us. So often though, we save our love for our own family, our church, or our group of friends. In writing this, it occurred to me that I’ve never invited a Muslim into my house or my church. But Muslims wouldn’t want to come! As followers of Christ though, we’re supposed to share his love with all who need it so that they too may come to know him. As Christians, we don’t get to decide who’s worthy of God’s love. It’s our job simply to share the love God’s shown us with those he’s put in our path.