That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear? —Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
It’s one thing to love family and another to love strangers. I’m not saying one is always easier than the other, but family love is more familiar than stranger love.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
The word translated ‘hospitality’ is the Greek word philozenia. It’s not yesterday’s philadelphia—love between siblings. Rather, philozenia named the kindness shown to people for whom we have no business showing kindness. It’s the opening of our life to people who are so foreign to us. In a society where birds of a feather flock together, this is counter-cultural.
And philozenia reminds us that yesterday, today, and forever, Jesus opens His arms wide to people who are completely unlike Him. And not just those who are different but also those who are forgotten.
Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3)
In the ancient world, a person who was imprisoned depended upon outsiders to bring them food, water, and warmth. Otherwise, sickness and death was imminent. Prison presented a real risk of being forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind.
A friend’s daughter heard me talk about this and said, “I know someone who is overlooked and mistreated.”
“Who?” her father asked.
“The janitor at my school. All the kids make fun of him. This year, I’m going to go out of my way to be kind.”
It’s simple, but this is grace in today’s society. Always and forever, we are to love those who aren’t like us, we are to love those who are easily overlooked, and we are to show kindness to those who are mistreated. This is what Jesus has always been about and what He wants to do through us, too.
Jesus, open my eyes to those around me who need Your love. Make me bold enough to step into the lives of those unlike me, even if it’s uncomfortable at first. Make me unwavering to stay there and love well. Amen.