Jesus at your front door
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34 ESV
Hospitality in ancient Hebrew culture was a sacred virtue. God’s law guaranteed the sojourner (the foreigner) protection and even love. He was to be welcomed, fed, and cared for. A host would go out to meet the stranger approaching his house, and would not ask him his name or purpose until his basic needs had been met. The host fed him, cared for his animals, and even took personal responsibility for his guest’s protection. When the sojourner left, the host would accompany him for some distance, bless him, and make sure he had everything he needed for his journey.
It all seems rather a lot to me. I open the door for my guests when they arrive, and see them back to the door as they depart. But that’s about it. Anything more would seem… too much.
Of course, I do try to make my guests feel welcome—like they are important. In my own cultural context I do whatever I can to communicate to my guests: “You are worth my time, because you are worth God’s time.” (But, I’m not running down the street alongside your car as you drive away!)
Differences in cultural expression aside, the core of hospitality is recognizing the inherent importance of another person, regardless of who they are. The default is to treat everyone as if they were Jesus himself showing up at our front door.
Why? For the simple reason that I too have been a stranger, and Jesus has welcomed me into his family, no questions or strings attached.