What to do with strangers?
Ex. 23:9 ¶ You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
There are numerous variations on the translation of the word that we find here as "alien." It can also be translated as foreigner or stranger. God was reminding the Israelites what it felt like to be "foreigners" in Egypt and that there would be times when there would be "foreigners" among them. From the very beginning the faith of the Jews was an evangelistic faith, one that would invite "strangers" or "foreigners" into their community and, if they were obedient to God, they, too could be a part of the community.
We, too, are never to forget what it feels like to be "strangers." This may mean different things for us but lets begin with what it feels like when we are new to Christ. When we first give our lives to him, we certainly feel like "strangers" among these Christians! Those Christians have their own culture and way of life and when you are new, you have no idea how to act. How in the world do you fit in?
We are never to forget how it felt when we were new to the faith, because when we remember this, then we know how to reach out and minister to others who are new to the Lord. Remember -- we too were strangers! However, the longer we are within the community of faith, the more comfortable we become and it makes us uncomfortable to reach out to the new "strangers." That's why God commands this to his people. Sometimes we need a gentle reminder that we are not to get too comfortable within the family of faith, and we must constantly reach out to those who are new and, specifically, to those who aren't going to feel immediately at home.
What to do with strangers? Greet them, love them, and help them feel comfortable until they are yours!
Lord, please help me have your eyes to see the "strangers" around me and help me to do all I can to help them feel comfortable in your kingdom! Amen.