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Monday, August 24, 2015

Entertaining Angels



"I was a stranger and you invited me in..."

The world's not safe.  Deja vu.  I get it.  This is another one of those issues where I frequently take heat from both sides.  I used to be afraid of everything, and then one day, I just wasn't.  But it's interesting to note that even when I was afraid, God always seemed to kick in some courage and compassion when I needed it.  This is where the real life stories begin. 

  • Stories like the pregnant high school dropout who crashed on our couch for a couple of weeks, because she had nowhere else to go.

  • Or the sex offender who dropped by to play video games and ended up on his knees in front of our coffee table, surrendering his life to Jesus.

  • Or the drug addict who brought his family to our house once a week for dinner and whose children were being discipled by mine in the backyard, on the swingset.

We can't be isolationists if we want to be disciples.  It will never work.  Disciples disciple other people, and let's face it, we need to reach out to people who don't have anyone else.  This is not a very popular worldview, but it has occurred to me that it is quite possible to participate in everything a local church does and to be far more isolated than you might ever imagine.  I love the Church.  I really mean that.  But I also love the community that will never set foot in one of our traditional church buildings.  I'm not willing to sacrifice one for the other.  Either one.  You might want to consider whether you actually want to adopt that standard for yourself, though, because it will get you into all kinds of fantastic trouble.  Believe me.  I know.

Interestingly, entertaining strangers comes at a steep price and also brings with it unexpected blessings. 

"Do not forget to entertain strangers for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.  Remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering" (Hebrews 13:2-3, NIV, 1984).

Perhaps it is easy for me to remember those who are mistreated, because I, myself, am suffering, have suffered.  And with this comes a thought that someone else has shared with me in recent days.  We are the least of these.  Just think that through.  I'm not talking about our vast wealth compared to the majority of the world, but most of us have a narrative that includes suffering of some kind.  I have long since abandoned the band wagon of "everything happens for a reason" and "God is in control" platitudes, but what if we took our painful life experiences and shared them with others who are hurting?  What if we partnered with God to bring some reason to the suffering? 

I think of the story of Joseph often, and I am completely sold on the idea that God did not hope or will that Joseph would be abused by his brothers, sold into slavery, deceived, lied about, or imprisoned.  However, just because things happen that God doesn't want to happen does not mean that they cannot be redeemed.  As Joseph says, "you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people." (Genesis 15:20, TM).

What if we took all of our pain and allowed God to transform it into life for others?  For strangers?  I'm in...

L.

2 comments:

  1. I've been thinking about this post for several days...
    "Taking all of our pain and allowing God to transform it into life for others!"

    Thanks for sharing

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Debby. It's always good to know when something strikes a chord that causes greater reflection!

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