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. Kelsey says:

    My husband and I were on the receiving end of this experience several years ago when we moved to Pittsburgh from NC, to be there for just one year for my husband’s job. A group of four other young married couples immediately welcomed us into their circle and church family. I was initially connected through a mutual friend, but other than that, they didn’t know us at all. We had an instant group of believing friends in a very unfamiliar place. They welcomed us into all aspects of their lives – weekend get togethers, celebrating milestones, Bible studies and the mundane everyday. I am still amazed when I look back on this time and see all they did for us knowing we would only be there for one year. Too often I think about the return I will get on my investment in others and am not doing it purely to show Christ’s love.

  2. Marsha says:

    Let’s pray that we can love EVERYONE like Jesus did. He is our model for graciousness, compassion and being a servant to all. Love this reminder that Jesus loved and welcomed all no matter the sin or status.

  3. Emily says:

    I love the passage in John – “I who speak to you am he.” He speaks to all of us. We have a relationship with Christ. That is so powerful. It gives such confidence as we go out and share he love he’s already given us with others. We are so full in this hope and steady relationship that we have so much joy to share with others!!

  4. Christine says:

    We are all strangers, we are all immigrants or descendents of. We have been welcomed and included by others and God. Let us go and do the same. Include, reach out, enjoy each other.

    1. Kensley Goodman says:

      I agree with this so much. There was a time in all of our lives where we were a stranger. Being the new kid at school or the new family at church. God always sends someone our way to make us feel comfortable in an unfamiliar place. We should return the blessing and reach out to the strangers around us.

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