“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Hebrews 13:1-3 ESV).
Back before I ditched cable I would occasionally watch a show called Undercover Boss. The top-level executive, usually of a chain or franchised business, would take on a disguise and take an entry level job at one such business to get the opinions of those who indirectly worked for him or her. The premise was that people are more likely to be open and honest with others at their same level of employment.
It’s a great concept.
I remember one occasion while I was on staff at a church years ago. The senior pastor, his wife, and I were in a car on the way to a ministerial association meeting an hour and a half away. Somewhere around half way, the pastor’s wife, who was seated in the back, asked me if I was intimidated by the pastor. Right out of the blue! I felt someone had put a spotlight on me in the middle of a crowd, but there was no crowd. Just the pastor seated right next to me.
The truth was that I was intimidated by him. The words that came out of my mouth affirmed that I was intimidated by him, but…I wasn’t any longer. The first phrase was true; the second? Not so much. If a fellow associate staffer had asked me, I wouldn’t have added a second phrase!
Last night, when the memory of that show popped into my head, I thought about that incident. Why was I so quick to lie? Was I thinking that I would somehow be seen as better or stronger man in the pastor’s eyes if I wasn’t intimidated?
Our text from Hebrews came to mind. I know that God is all-seeing and all-knowing. He has no need to descend from lofty places like the CEO’s on Undercover Boss. So why would we have the scripture telling us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (emphasis mine)? Are they just passing through on their way to a real task? Why would God send them in that way?
Perchance they are sent for our benefit. Could it be that their visits are to provide us with opportunities to be whom God has called us to be? Or maybe God just wants us to be mindful in our treatment of others.
Either of those reasons is rational; but as one who tries to be a “mindful disciple”, I’m partial to the second reason.
So what does this mean for us practically? We should treat everyone with the hospitality, love and grace that we would show an angel or God Himself.
I’ve got some work to do. How about you?
Blessings on your day!