Day 9

Making Room for the Stranger



Leviticus 19:34, Ruth 2:5-12, Matthew 25:35-36, John 4:1-26, Acts 16:6-10

BY Guest Writer

Text: Leviticus 19:34, Ruth 2:5-12, Matthew 25:35-36, John 4:1-26, Acts 16:6-10

My husband and I moved into a new house last summer—a new house to us. In fact, it is a very old house, full of drafty windows and narrow stairs, but all those quirks were glossed over with stainless steel appliances, fresh paint, and marble counters. For us, part of the appeal was extra space to share, but we had no idea how quickly the need would arise.  

We hadn’t finished unpacking when we learned that a missionary family from Spain needed a place to live for a month. Not knowing who they were or how much English they spoke, we agreed, then hurried to set up a bed and buy some extra towels for the guest bathroom.

The couple arrived a few days later with their eighteen-month-old son, who had bright blonde hair and a gap-toothed grin. I had only a few semesters of high school Spanish under my belt, but after a few days had passed, through smiles and hugs and several ‘gracias,’ Rebecca and I had become fast friends. We communicated with a mix of Spanglish and charades, soon sharing some of our deepest heartaches and joys, even though we only had the vocabulary of kindergarteners. It’s amazing the connection God can forge between strangers.

I love that we serve a God who shows no favoritism (Romans 2:11). In a society where women were ostracized, Jesus frequently addressed women directly, talking to them about their most intimate fears and sin. He had no concern for His own reputation. He saw no difference between rich and poor, able-bodied and lame. Jesus made room for everyone.

Is it possible that there is no such thing as a stranger? Is it possible that all the borders we draw are invisible? Is it possible that the lines of language and skin color and difference are passing away? (1 John 2:17).

It was fun and exciting to welcome a family from Spain into our home. But as I read these verses of Scripture, I’m struck by how much harder it is for me to welcome in those “close” strangers who are a regular part of my life. The sister-in-law who doesn’t quite fit in. The mother who doesn’t live up to my needs or expectations. Sometimes emotional boundary lines are harder to cross than oceans.

But God is with us as we welcome those strangers, too. He blesses our feeble efforts. He is with us when our patience wears out. He repairs the damage of lost years, and He quiets us with His love.

As Christians, it’s easy to want to isolate ourselves away from the world. But God has shown us that this world is not our home. We, too, are foreigners in a strange land, living here only for a short while before passing on to our permanent address with the Lord.

We, of all people, can afford to open our homes to the stranger, the ostracized, the lowly. “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).SRT-John-instagram9s-new

Claire Gibson is a freelance writer and editor whose work has been featured both locally and nationally in publications including The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves her husband, Patrick, and their dog, Winnie.

Post Comments (59)

59 thoughts on "Making Room for the Stranger"

  1. Katie says:

    When I read God’s commands to the nation of Israel, I view that more as a parallel to us as Christians (God’s chosen people). Not to the United States. If ANYONE comes into our churches, they should be welcomed with the love of Christ, no matter if they are a refugee, illegal immigrant, etc. That is not the same as letting anyone and everyone come in to the country, no questions asked. All countries have laws and laws should be obeyed.

  2. Alexandria says:

    Thinking of ourselves as foreigners just spoke so clearly to me – we are only here for a millisecond of our eternity with Christ

  3. Kylee says:

    “We, of all people, can afford to open our homes to the stranger, the ostracized, the lowly.” I’m guilty of wondering “what can I do, I’m one person” or “we’re a busy family, can’t do much.” I’m praying today that God would open all of our eyes to the ways we can help using what we have, where we are, to be hospitality in a hostile world. Be with us, Jesus.

  4. Jengrace says:

    What stuck me was Acts 16:6-10
    “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down lto Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

    They listened closely to the Holy Spirit. They didn’t go before God with expectation that God would bless them. No, the went where God was moving. It reminds me of what Jesus says in John 12:26 “Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”
    There are so many needs and so many hurting people….where is God calling each of as individuals to serve? May we be willing to listen to His still small voice above our feelings and the shouts of others.

  5. Becky63 says:

    We were strangers. God welcomed us.

  6. Sandy says:

    I think that this is very pertinent to what’s happening right now regarding the Travel Ban on Muslims. God loved EVERYONE How can we ever expect to Share The Love of Jesus and God Our Father by Discrimination?! Pray for our new POTUS’s heart, that it will be softened, that he will be convicted by the Holy Spirit and have a New concern and Awareness of Gods Perfect Plan to bring love to ALL HIS children so that they might know HIM

    1. Pat says:

      The ban is on in order to keep Americans safe. We are a land of laws and these laws need to be inforced. Immigrants need to be vetted upon entry. We can welcome immigrants, but on the other hand, we have to make sure they are not here to do us harm. Think about Kates Law. How would people feel if it was their child who was murdered senselessly by one of these people. Think about why we lock our doors at night. Immigration needs to be done the correct way and if I was a immigant who come in the legal way and now see all the illegals taking and getting things for free, I would be very upset about that fact. I think God gave us this county and we must protect it just as we do our own families.

      1. Kylee says:

        “These people” are not all criminals, my friend. Many are seeking a better life for their families, much like I’m sure your ancestors did, and it is nearly impossible to do so legally with our current system in place. Ask me how I know about this ;)

  7. Keri McCue says:

    “I’m struck by how much harder it is for me to welcome in those “close” strangers who are a regular part of my life.” This is such a powerful statement. To me, this brings to mind that sometimes we can be so “mission minded” that we forget about the people we interact with daily that need Christ’s love as well.

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

    1. Kylee says:

      Amen Keri, it’s so hard to love the strangers in our immediate circle — I’ve both had and BEEN the mother that doesn’t meet the emotional needs, so today’s reading was definitely a CTA to love my mother a little better, and give myself some grace!

  8. Jane Elisabeth says:

    I don’t want to get political, this is entirely our of curiosity. Is anyone thinking of the refugee issue in America during the past couple days of this study? I personally am a conservative and like to think I’m becoming more and more faithful. I’m also developing a deeper understanding and appreciation for God’s Word… but I’m having an incredibly hard time wrapping my mind around the refugee “ban.” The Bible is so crystal clear, everyone is a foreigner. I just don’t know what to make of it.

    1. Misty says:

      I am extremely, extremely NOT conservative and very politically active. I just started She Reads Truth with this study, as I try to spend more time with the Word and structure it into my everyday. Yes, I agree the Bible is very clear as it relates to this situation. I feel so sad when people try to deny that for the sake of making sure they are on “their” political side. Truth is truth. I am relieved that those identifying as conservative can acknowledge that. ❤❤❤

    2. Sandy says:

      I feel similarly, and so my Action Planis to Privately PRAY for all who have authority to resolve this issue – That they will hear God’s quiet Holy Spirit voice and soften their heart S, bring about change that follows the Intent of The Great Commission that Gods Story of Salvation will be shared with all who arrive during this ‘stay against THE BAN’, and even if it’s only one heart that receives and Accepts the offer of Gods Salvation- a New Soul added to The Family of God. God is MOST POWERFUL and hears all our prayers. He IS in Control and for this S I Am Grateful.

    3. Ali says:

      This is a really hard topic in life for me. I’m not one bit knowledgeable on all things politics! I guess I struggle feeling as though a ban is wrong as I read scripture but how do we as a country protect ourselves? So because I’m a Christian and God’s word tells me to love strangers I should leave my home unlocked and allow anyone to enter? I shouldn’t take protective measures for my family? Again, I don’t know all about what has been put in place when it comes to the current political situation but I would like to believe that they have more knowledge and understanding on the situation than I do and so therefore all I can do is pray and believe that God will provide a way for those who truly need. This is tough…

      1. Jerry Morrison says:

        Maybe I will have a different perspective if I ever have children, even though I’m not sure I should, but the Bible says “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” This is quite opposite of how my flesh feels most days. Nevertheless, this is the reality of the Christ we follow. Going the extra mile, offering the other cheek, giving our shirt to somone who wants our jacket (matt 5:38-40). If in Christ all of our tomorrows are secure then we can radically love and serve our neighbors today. For Jesus radical meant to death on the cross. We lose a lot when we try to make Christianity any easier than that.

      2. Amanda says:

        I feel the same way. While we are called to love everyone, even strangers, I don’t think Christ is calling us to forego wisdom. He actually says we should be as innocent as doves and cunning as serpents. Think about the Samaritan man who helped the man on the side of the road. Did he bring him into his home and possibly endanger his family? No, he cleaned him up, made sure he had everything he needed, including a place to stay, and paid for the innkeeper to care for him.
        Yes, as Christians we should help those in need, but I believe even the Bible makes the distinction between Christian duty and the duty of the lawmakers to protect their people and land. As a Christian I want to find ways to help the refugees, but I also want to trust that the leaders of our country will keep us safe (preventing incidences like what happened in Germany).

        1. Jennifer Jones says:

          Thank you for this decisive response! I feel the same way but have had trouble articulating. And the example of the Good Samaritan is great!

      3. Kaylan Williams says:

        My thoughts on it are that the United States already had protective barriers; this country of ours was already incredibly hard to enter as an immigrant or as a refugee, because of all the security checks, tests, etc. I lean more to trusting these check points as our protective measures and I see a complete ban as stereotyping an entire group of people that need help. I can’t reconcile the ban with my knowledge of Jesus’ heart so I’m praying as well that it will be lifted/ changed soon. I also found a website through Ann Voskamp called wewelcomerefugees.com and was able to sign a petition and send a quick message to my local representative. It was great to see all the comments on the issue, all the Jesus love <3 <3 Prayers for blessing over your lives!

    4. Laura says:

      I think I can relate to how you’re feeling as well. I’ve been struggling through this study, because my heart aches for the refugees seeking help and comfort, but I am conservative leaning and don’t quite know how to reconcile my feelings with POTUS’ rulings and what our faith tells us. I think the way the travel ban was rolled out was incredibly stupid and poorly managed, but I understand the intent behind it. In my mind, I believe strongly that Jesus called us to be compassionate but he did not call us to be stupid. We should certainly care for those who need it, but I don’t believe we’re being instructed to let in individuals who wish harm on our country. Thankfully I’m not a politician who has to figure out how to execute the rulings on how people can safely enter our country, and I pray for those who are in control of the situation to be guided by the Holy Spirit and make the choices that Jesus would want.

      I also think that we often times let our emotions get the best of us. When we see the images of war-torn Middle East and the refugees seeking asylum, how can your heart not go out to those people? But do we react the same way when we see people in our own community struggling – whether it is single parents, neighborhoods of lower incomes, or coworkers with family problems? The problems of our neighbors are certainly first-world issues compared to what is happening overseas, but they are struggles nonetheless. The images of the problems we see day-to-day aren’t as heart-wrenching, but our immediate neighbors need help just as much as others. A lot of what Jesus preaches about is taking care of your neighbors. I am trying to focus on how I can pray for and serve those immediately around me and show the love of Jesus to the people I encounter daily, regardless of their nationality. I CAN control that situation, not the one going on with our government.

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