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Show hospitality to all strangers, for some have hosted angels unaware they were being tested.
– Hebrews 13:2

What a time we live in - upheaval and intrigue, political division and hostility. How do we find our way, how do good Christian folks stay the course? Hebrews was written to a church in similar times - uncertain economics, threatening and savage barbarians on the borders, a culture that seemed at odds with the church, shrinking religious convictions overall, and a political system that seemed best suited to self-destruction and turmoil. The author of Hebrews is writing practical advice to the church, ways to not only give voice to Christian values but to actually live it out. The author appeals to Christian ideals and the teachings of Jesus to admonish the church to live correctly. And what does he say - Read the whole section from which the above quote is taken -

  1. show brotherly love to everyone (no exceptions here).
  2. Welcome strangers (again, no exceptions) because God tests us in this by sending angels among us.
  3. Visit those in prison as if you yourself were there.
  4. Keep the vows of marriage and stay committed.
  5. Stop loving or pursuing money as the measure or goal of life but instead trust in God to provide.
  6. Honor your church leaders.
  7. Live by showing grace and living grace - that is show mercy to others.
  8. And don’t be carried away by all sorts of teachings or political dreams or nonsense but trust in God and the apostles’ teachings.

What does this practical advice say to us Christians living today? We are to live even in uncertain times not as fearful and uptype folks, but as those who have peace in Christ. We are to risk if we must to see and uphold the dignity of all people, not pick and choose. We are to live by showing grace and love and trust in God alone to provide. And we must be faithful, to each other as brothers and sisters (again without exception) and as committed people (marriage is the example). This is living in a way opposite of the way the world teaches. This is living for Christ.

I encountered that in New York. I was working with the group at the New York Common Pantry. A woman came in and ordered food and I filled her order. When I delivered it, she looked at the rice and got upset. She spoke only Mandarin Chinese. She pointed to the rice and then to several things that were white. I knew she wanted white rice but the only rice we had was brown. I tried to tell her we had only the brown but she persisted. In a short while, she was frustrated. I called one of the staff over to explain and he told her—“no white rice!” and pointed to the door. I patted her back and offered her back the brown rice. About that time her friend arrived and was able to translate the idea back to her—we had only brown rice that day. The woman nodded, then said something and patted my back. Her friend translated. “Most folks just get upset and end up yelling at me. Some have even pushed me or told me to go. You stayed and listened and tried. I am thankful for that. You make me feel like I matter. Thank you again.”

We are called to show Christ by how we live. We are called to trust in Christ, to show love and dignity, to be hospitable to even strangers and to show mercy and grace. How would you face the test of angels being sent among us?

- Pastor Tim

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