Making Room for the Stranger
Open Your Bible
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).
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.