The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you. Leviticus 19:34
Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you; they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on in a manner worthy of God. 3 John 5-6
Jorge works for a friend. He is paid in cash. He is an undocumented alien. He is also a good and faithful worker who has been in the United States for many years. Maria and her daughter live at Abba’s House, a ministry that specializes in helping families make the transition through the refugee and immigration process to full citizenship.
The texts above are the kind that are often used to validate a very liberal and open borders concept of justice in the face of the immigration questions facing our nation. Recent developments have pitted Congress against the President regarding building a wall along the southern border of the United States.
You may be relieved or disappointed to learn that I have no wisdom in regard to how to navigate the political complexities that go along with these issues. But you and I both have the wisdom of God’s word in regard to how we are to treat the people we come across – whether friend or stranger.
The New Testament was written in a time when hospitality was essential to the spread of the Gospel. Had people not received those scattered because of the persecution of the earliest followers of Jesus, we would not have the same growth of the Early Church. Had Paul not been received by Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), the manner in which his support would come while he was in prison would have unfolded quite differently. God would have seen to it in other ways, but he did see to it through the hospitality and generosity of people along the mission trail.
A recent Lutheran Hour Ministry/Barna study about family spiritual vitality showed something quite enlightening. The study was of 2500 self-identified Jesus followers and the households in which they lived. They identified four kinds of spiritual vitality or lack thereof:
Families that opened their homes to others on a regular basis were found to be much more spiritually vibrant than those who did not. Spiritually-vital families also tended to have fun together.
On the one hand we are commanded to offer hospitality in the name of Jesus. Some, the Bible says, have even entertained angels without knowing it as they have offered hospitality. It ought not be a surprise to us that families that align themselves with God’s values toward offering hospitality toward all people are most often also the most spiritually alive. Perhaps this calling is good not only for strangers and friends, but also the ones who welcome them.