Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I was a Stranger

In the rural area it is very easy to entertain strangers. You can easily step into a homestead and ask for a mug of water, and you will be given. However, in the urban centers, we hardly even talk to our next door neighbor leave alone a stranger. But I can’t blame the urban folk, they have reasons to be careful.

I was considering Matthew 25:43 which says; I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, as a basis for judgment when Christ will be back and I was challenged. When Jesus talks about a stranger, we more often than not think of a stranded someone in the estate who cannot find house number Y17, or an old man in town who is looking for Chester house and when we offer help, in our mind we always know we have let in a stranger. And as much as that is true I also discovered something else.

When we talk of a stranger, it is someone who does not share your value system. A stranger is someone who you would seek to disassociate because of their beliefs, their behaviors and their habits. And we have enough strangers in the world. But as believers what are we doing about them? Do we extend our love to such folk? Or we just look at them from a far and pity them? Or maybe just pray? But how will they know if we don’t talk to them? How will they know if we don’t reach out to them in love.

Jesus demonstrated the kind of open heart we should, yet we must guard not to be swallowed since bad company corrupts good morals. But we cannot keep safe by keeping away. We need to develop a capacity to interact with the strangers and influence them positively. When I look at Jesus, he was able to converse with a Samaritan woman who was a manizer, and she was never the same again. He would interact with a tax collector and influence them for the kingdom. That is the capacity I am talking about.

There are people who are lost and in going through different issues in life. We have prostitutes, thieves, homosexuals, witches, drunks and even murders, and I have met some who would love to come and join the kingdom, but they don’t know where to start. They are strangers looking to be let in, but what do we do? We judge them, we throw them out, even those who have been converted, we see them from their past, not for what they could become. And they keep feeling as strangers. And within no time, they just find they cannot fit in.

What manner of love is this, that even when we were sinners, Jesus loved us and died for us? That is the kind of love we need to have. To love the sinners and open our homes (lives) for them. And though we would wish they converted and left their ways, it may take more time than we think. So, let’s just plant the right seeds and God, who makes rain fall to both the righteous and the sinners, will water the seeds and in due time, our efforts will not be in vain.

Which stranger are you not letting in? Let us not be the lot who will be saying on judgment day, 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’   45 “He will reply, ‘truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Mat 25: 44-46  NIV

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