Watering the Tulips
March 16, 2016
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” –Hebrews 13:2
What is to be the attitude of believers towards immigration? Do we sometimes allow political alliances to steer our theology? Is it possible that cultural elitism has somehow made Christians more self serving and less concerned about our neighbor? All of these are good questions and the Bible may have more to say about this subject that we’ve ever considered.
“Strangers” in our text verse carries the idea of one that is not from your area. It could mean one from out of town or it could mean one from out of the country. Either way, we are to show them hospitality. The Book of Ruth is a wonderful example of its hero Boaz showing hospitality to Ruth. She declared in Ruth 2:10, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” Boaz takes the role of Kinsman Redeemer in this book – a role that Jesus takes for us. He has the ability and the willingness to redeem Ruth physically. And after he redeems her, she takes her place in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). What if Boaz would have taken the position that many believers find themselves in today? And honestly, being a citizen of a nation that God Himself established, Boaz had all the more reason to be elitist. Thank God he wasn’t.
God addressed the treatment of foreigners in the Law. For instance, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34). And again, “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19). The Jews were commanded to love foreigners on the basis that God loved them. We should consider that God might sovereignly be bringing a foreigner into contact with the Gospel – a thing he never had in his native land.
Jesus wasn’t exactly silent on this issue either. In looking forward to future judgment, Jesus declared that some would be rewarded because “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Matthew 25:35-36). Some at the judgment will question Him as to when they welcomed Him as a stranger. He will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). By definition, “strangers” are people we don’t know. And without a doubt, some are Jesus’ “brothers”. Our duty is to show them hospitality including, of course, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with them.
In no way is this article meant to be political in nature. On the contrary, this article is meant to show that oftentimes political “common sense” differs from the rather clear teaching of Scripture. Child of God, let us pray that we will all reach out to those in need – both in physical need and spiritual need. Let us follow God’s leadership through His Word as it relates to the immigrant.
Watering the Tulips is brought to you by Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Northport, AL. For more information, please visit www.sovereigngrace.net . “Your App to the Gospel” can be downloaded at iTunes for iPhone, iPad and IPod Touch, Google Play for Android, the Windows Phone Marketplace, and the Windows Store for Windows 8/8.1 based tablets and computers. Please download it today!