ODJ: hospitality to strangers

December 27, 2014 

READ: Hebrews 13:1-3 

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers (v.2).

In 2011 marine biologists around the globe were fixated on a pod of sperm whales in the North Atlantic Ocean; they had adopted a bottlenose dolphin calf. Jens Krause, a German behavioural ecologist, told one news source that sperm whales have “never been known to mingle this closely with another species”. Apparently the young dolphin had a spinal defect and couldn’t swim fast enough to keep up with other dolphins. But surprisingly, the sperm whales gathered the struggling dolphin into their fold.

The sperm whales modelled in nature what the people of God are to do throughout the whole world—welcome with wide-open arms of love those who are outsiders, gathering them into our communities. The writer of Hebrews charges the church to “keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 13:1). Before we can give love, however, we must be immersed in communities where love is front and centre, where it forms our identity. We must experience love as it’s freely poured into us.

Love must never stay confined within us, though. It should move outwards. “Show hospitality to strangers,” the Scripture says (v.2). This instruction doesn’t carry a simple moral mandate. Rather, these words define the way love works. It welcomes, offers friendship and relationship, tends to others’ needs and takes on others’ burdens. “Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies” (v.3). To feel another’s pain, we must allow them to come in close. We must welcome them into our inner circle.

Teresa of Avila encouraged this kind of biblical hospitality. “Spread love everywhere you go,” she said. “Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” —Winn Collier

365-day plan› 1 John 5:1-21

Read Hebrews 13:2 again. What strikes you about the possibility of us encountering angels? Why do you think this was included in this passage? 
Where do you most need hospitality to be offered to you? How does hospitality reflect God’s loving nature?