Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
-Hebrews 13:1-2 (NLT)
The author of Hebrews closes out the book by addressing his readers to continue to love each other, as they’ve been doing. It’s a “Good job, keep it up” kind of statement.
But he follows that by saying we must not forget to also extend love beyond those we already know. The author says to love strangers as well. Why? Because they might be angels.
This command is a direct reference to the story of both Abraham and Lot’s unexpected visitors from Genesis 18-19. In that passage, both men immediately open their homes to these guests, who were in fact, angels. In their day, this was Godly generosity in action. Travelers had to sleep overnight in obscure towns, so inviting someone in to stay you didn’t know not only showed hospitality, but it also pointed them directly toward your God. Also, in the context of Hebrews, many early Christians were being persecuted and were on the run. They needed hospitality from strangers more than ever!
Although foreign travelers may not be often knocking on your doors looking for food and shelter, there are people right under your nose today who need welcoming. Maybe it’s the co-worker or classmate you’ve never spoken to. Maybe it’s the visitor to your church who looks uncomfortable on the back row. Or maybe it’s that person who the opposite of you in every way, and because of that you’ve turned down every chance to get to know them personally.
We are being challenged here to be as hospitable to strangers as we are to acquaintances… To view outsiders the same as insiders… To love those that are different from us as much as we love those who are the same as us… To meet the needs of everyone whom God puts in our path.
Who knows? Maybe you too will be entertaining angels without realizing it.