Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.~~Hebrews 13:2 (NRSV)
I’m not much for the Book of Hebrews. I’ve never been enamored by the lofty language, the implied superiority of New Testament teaching over the Old Testament foundations for Jesus’ ministry, and the dismissiveness of some Old Testament leaders in the development of Jesus’ credentials for ministry. I have successfully “dodged” having to teach this in my Wednesday Morning Bile Study, though my days are numbered … it got the second largest numbers of votes for our major study topic for the year. My guess, is it will triumph in the ballot box next Fall, and I will have to finally teach it.
All this being said, I was humbled by the beautiful verse we read is this past Sunday lessons in worship … Hebrews 13:2, which was part of the second lesson (and which is copied above as our prompt). I found my spirit taken hostage by this image of “entertaining angels unawares.” Part of that spiritual imprisonment was fueled by blessing and grace in its reminder that some of my most powerful “God moments” in life have been surprises, in part because the “angels” who touched my life with God’s grace were people whose earthly appearance invited me to dismiss them, almost as soon as I met them. However, part of that spiritual imprisonment was also fueled by the judgment of my sin, which all too often draws conclusions about who the saints are around me, as if I had the ability to search their hearts, as only God can do. The judgment gave me pause, and caused me to wonder how many “God moments” have I missed in life, because of my inability to consider the possibility that “angels unawares” were in my presence. Probably more than I care to admit to.
We live in a culture that invites us to be fearful of so many things. We have leaders who brew that fear into a cocktail of mistrust and suspicion for any that we do not know well … those who are different from us … those who think differently than we do … those who embrace passions in life that we do not embrace. I do understand that the level of violence and aggression which brings on a culture of fear, merits caution in what we do and those with whom we do it. But sometimes I also wonder if the invitation to lead with fear and mistrust, helps to stir the cauldron of anger and disengagement and isolation which fuels that fear and mistrust. I am not a sociologist, so my words carry no sense of authority or wisdom with them. But they are worthy of prayer and reflection. Maybe I’ll even wander through the Book of Hebrews in my devotional reflection this week, to see if there are some other spiritual treasures I have yet to unearth. What about you?