This time last year, I was in Thessaloniki, Greece, serving alongside a local church as they welcomed refugees from Iraq and Syria. Most Greeks in Thessaloniki wanted nothing to do with these people. They were unfamiliar, foreign, filthy, needy, and viewed as a burden.
But the church where we worshipped took a distinctly different approach from the city they called home.
These followers of Jesus built relationships with the refugees. They welcomed them into their homes for meals and into the church building for showers and rest. They showed them love.
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4)
Because our Greek brothers and sisters took Scripture like James 2 seriously, scores of refugees came to know the God of the Bible. They experienced the love of Jesus, and they couldn’t get enough of it.
Today, many of the refugees who walked through the doors of that church are now extending selfless love and care to their Muslim countrymen in the name of Jesus, often risking violent responses in order to do so.
These are the subversive, life-giving acts of love to which we’re called. This is the upside down way in which God redeems the world.
We may not be in Greece, but there are certainly people among us who feel like outcasts. Who are the “others” in your life? Who are the unfamiliar, the foreign, the filthy, the needy? Who are you viewing as burdensome? What would it look like for you to embrace them with the love of Jesus this week? Not to just tolerate them…but to love them?
Or perhaps you feel like the other. You feel like an outcast. A burden. Friend, YOU are loved so deeply that God sacrificed His Son to redeem you. You have a Father who is there, ready to embrace you in your loneliness. Just call out His name. If you have more questions, please reply to this email, and we'll talk.
Father, may we be people who love others as ourselves. May we be known for the radical nature of our love, rather than for our exclusion. May we love the least of these in a way that draws them to Jesus, which is only possible through Your Spirit and Your grace. Amen.
“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:1-2)
Hope to see you tomorrow night at our monthly prayer gathering!