I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
Matthew 25:35 English Standard Version
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus told an amazing parable about extending God’s welcome and hospitality to the strangers in our midst.
Strangers are the people we don’t normally come across in our day-to-day lives or the people we tend to avoid because they are so different and often so dissimilar from us in every respect. Yet, in telling this parable, Jesus wants us to know that they belong to Him, even if we feel they never really belonged with us.
Here is the gospel challenge: Jesus says that how we treat “strangers” shows if we are truly His followers. If you don’t like new people coming to our church, especially if they don’t look or act like you—hear the gospel again and ask whether there is something missing in your understanding of it.
Jesus identifies Himself with the strangers. He saw them as His brothers and sisters and He loved them. And whatever we do or fail to do to the least of them, we are doing it to Him. Instead of hearing Jesus’ strong word as a rebuke, treat it as an invitation to live and lead a counterculture life steeped in the kingdom’s value and perspective.
It is through the Cross that Jesus bridged the irreconcilable gap between God and us and between us and others. It is because of the Cross that the wall which separated us was demolished (Ephesians 2:14). The Apostle Paul tells us that there is no more Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor, male or female—because we are all one through our union with Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28). In essence, we are no longer strangers to each other, but neighbours for each other.
If this is true, then the question isn’t who is a stranger to the church but who am I to be a neighbour to?
We are liberated to love our neighbour as Jesus loves us. This takes obedience and committed faithfulness because we need to resist the temptation of division, prejudice and fear. When we learn to receive each other, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit will move us to a greater expression of the unity we share as a body of Christ.
© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
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