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Good Morning.

And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born 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)

No body likes being the new guy or girl in any social gathering and this includes church. Most of us in that situation tend to stay quiet, observing our surroundings and bashful about approaching a group of people who, obviously, know one another very well. While I realize that there are exceptions to this rule, I do think that most of us tend to follow this pattern when we are in unfamiliar and uncomfortable environments.

That is why it is so nice to have someone who is part of the group go out of their way to approach the stranger in the crowd to make them feel welcome and a part of what is going on. This is especially important in our fellowships and churches because so many are already timid and skeptical about even getting involved with a congregation and why? Because many have been hurt and ostracized by people in other groups previously. Making someone feel welcome can go a long way in that person’s healing from the past hurts.

I believe that is why, in part anyway, God gave explicit instructions to His people to treat the stranger with kindness and consideration. In fact, it is forbidden to taunt a stranger or to treat them as a second-class citizen. Where the congregation of the LORD is concerned, the stranger who attaches himself to God’s people is to be as if he were born into the family and we are to love that person in a way that honors us and our God. He reminds us that we have all been strangers in the past, and are to take note of how we were, at times, mistreated. Do we want to do that to others?

As God’s people, we need to acknowledge that this is more than a suggestion; it is directive given to us by our Heavenly Father. Moreover, it is to be taken seriously because we are warned of the repercussions if we fail to treat others in the proper way — “Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow” (Deuteronomy 27:19).

So then, the next time you are in a gathering, and especially in a congregational setting, make a point of going to the stranger in the crowd and make them feel like they are family and a stranger no more because this is what Messiah did for us all through His death, burial and resurrection. As Paul said to those who were not born Israeli: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

Blessings and Shalom,  




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