Monday, June 9, 2008

Entertaining Strangers

"Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:1-2).

This weekend we went to the HEAV conference in Richmond. It was wonderful... challenging, convicting, encouraging, invigorating. There are so many things I need to "process" about all we heard, some of which I'm sure I'll do here, but for now, I'm really pondering this verse.

Why? Because this weekend in Richmond, Iivo and I stayed with a total stranger... a friend of a friend, a fellow believer, a "brother" whom we contacted to see if we could stay with him on Friday night. This sort of ministry is something we do all the time, but I'm realizing more and more that it is not something usually practiced easily and freely within the church Body. Even having someone into our home to share a meal can be daunting to many of us, so the thought of hosting overnight guests - particularly ones we don't know - is terrifying. I would like to suggest that it needn't be. We have found it to be a significant blessing, both to ourselves and to our family, whenever we are on the receiving end or the giving end of this experience.

The conference this weekend was not free. The food we had to eat while away from our own kitchen was not free. The home school curriculum I purchased while there was not free. The gas it took to get us there and back was certainly far from free! And so the fact that we did not have to spend further Kingdom money for lodging while we were there was a huge financial blessing to our family.

We are so grateful that this young single guy Rick chose to "not forget to entertain strangers..." in this very low-risk, high-yield sort way. His beautifully-restored 1930's house in the Fan has extra bedrooms in it, and he was happy to have one of them filled for this particular night. What did it cost him? The money it will take him to run the washing machine on our sheets and towels. What did it save us? A lot of money.

But even beyond that, it was a deeper spiritual blessing to both him and to us. We provided opportunity for him to serve the Lord by serving His Body in this way, and he provided us opportunity to humble ourselves by making known our need. And the Lord blessed both of us with an experiential picture of His Body in action. "Keep on loving each other as brothers." Do we really believe that we who call ourselves by His name are actually family? Do we really believe that we are to share with others what the Lord has given to us? Do we really believe that Kingdom money spent on necessities like evening lodging while at a Convention could be better spent on other things?

By the way, our kids are watching... and every time we as their parents invite in a stranger - and we prepare the house and change the sheets and run the vacuum and set out the towels - they are seeing the Body of Christ in action. And so it is even on the other end, when we come home with tales of the house we stayed in... a home belonging to one who was a stranger on Thursday afternoon, a new friend by Thursday night, but a brother all along.

Thank you, Rick, for serving the Lord by serving us. May we ever be open to doing the same!

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