Many of us tend to think of the gospel only in terms of its future eternal implications. We rightly see it as our avenue into communion with Jesus upon death. But, the good news of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins impacts our daily lives. The gospel speaks to our thought life, the way we do marriage, how we conduct business, and even how we welcome in outsiders.
Leviticus 19:34 says, “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.”
Starting Redeemer Church and launching our initial Vision Gatherings is all about loving our city with the gospel. This means loving our city the way God loves them.
There is a danger within all of us to pull away and only love those that are easy to love. There is a danger that each of us will recoil from people and only love those people that we like to be around. There is also a related danger that we would view our city as a tool to be used to get what I want. Maybe that is an expanded business base or good education for our kids or quiet from the hustle and bustle of urban centers. Instinctively we step away from people not towards them. We draw lines of “us” and “them.” Instinctively we also use people for our own selfish gain.
The problem with these dangerous and natural responses to people, and our city, is that it is the exact opposite of how God views people and Denton.
Jesus loves people who are hard to love. He engages people who are difficult to be around. He doesn’t use cities but serves cities. He doesn’t take advantage of cities but frees cites and reconciles cities and saves cities. He doesn’t step away from people but toward them, engaging even the ugliest parts of their lives. Jesus doesn’t look at a group of people and say he is against them, but rather seeks to save all people.
Do you remember the story of the Last Supper from John 13? Jesus knows he is about to be betrayed, then falsely accused and falsely convicted, then abused and tortured, then murdered for our sins. He was with a group of men that he loved, but that he also know would betray him. At that final meal, he chose to serve them in a very intimate and messy way…he washed their feet. The God of the universe who upholds all things by the power of his word, humbled himself and showed these men hospitality. Men he knew would betray him. These were not men who were easy to love or even easy to like, but Jesus showed them hospitality.
But this is God’s M.O. isn’t it? God has always shown love to even strangers. In our verse, we see that based upon God’s pattern, he also calls his people to love strangers in the same way. ”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 19:34)
God’s people are not to treat strangers like strangers, but are to treat strangers like family. We are to treat sojourners like natives. We are to treat people who are on the outside like they are on the inside. We are to serve “them” like they are one of “us.” One of the ways we know we are God’s people and he is our God is by how we love strangers. Based upon what Jesus accomplishes on the cross, we are to love strangers like they are one of us…like family.