If you know me, you know how much I LOVE celebrating my birthday, and you also know that “celebrating my birthday” means celebrating the entire month of August, as my birthday month. I mean, August is the best month of the year #factsonly. Well, one year, I decided that I wanted to start blessing people for my birthday month. You know, each day leading up to my birth-date, I would surprise people with a random gift. Sometimes the gift was something small that I saw they wanted/needed, sometimes it was something big, sometimes it was just something random that I thought would put a smile on their face. I began to call these #birthdayblessings.
In 2017, I decided that I wanted to do the same, but this time God put it on my heart to not only bless people, but take some time to “meet them”; it was during this year’s birthday month celebration that #meetnostrangers was born. But what does “Meet No Strangers even mean?
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.Matthew 25:35-36, 40, NIV
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.Hebrews 13: 2, NIV
When I think about what it means to “Meet No Strangers”, these are the verses that I feel like expresses well what it means. “Meet No Strangers” is an action of love towards those who you know and those who you do not know; the kind of action that isn’t done with boasting, nor with complaining under your breath. It’s like what God’s word says:
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.1 peter 4:9, NIV
Merriam-Webster gives the following definition for the word “stranger”:
- 1: one who is strange: such as
- a (1): FOREIGNER
- (2): a resident alien
- b: one in the house of another as a guest, visitor, or intruder
- c: a person or thing that is unknown or with whom one is unacquainted
- d: one who does not belong to or is kept from the activities of a group
- e: one not privy or party to an act, contract, or title : one that interferes without right
- a (1): FOREIGNER
- 2: one ignorant of or unacquainted with someone or something
Just reading the definition, a stranger does not sound like someone wanted/desired by others. Giving someone the title of “stranger” naturally puts them on the “outside”. As a child, we are told “don’t talk to strangers”. When telling this to a child, this is great advice; children are young and vulnerable. However, as we grow and mature, we no longer talk, think, or reason as a child; this advice is no longer valid.
For each person, “Meet No Strangers” may look differently. Maybe you have a co-worker that REALLY gets under your skin – the way said person looks, speaks, and even eats just really sets you off. The thought of being around that person burns you up, so inviting said person out to eat is just NOT an option. This person has become your “stranger”. However, you choose to overlook your feelings and invite said person out to lunch, or a coffee, and you choose to have a real “get to know you” type conversation.
Maybe it’s someone you’ve never met before. It could be a day that you go to the bank and happen to observe that the people working behind the counter seem to be having one of those “long days”, so you decide you want to do something to brighten their day. That something may be like going to a nearby bakery to buy a dozen cupcakes for them to share, and talking with them for a bit (if they have the time), or simply smiling and going about your day.
Lately, “Meet No Strangers” for me has been choosing to get to know the people God has placed around me; to see the beauty within them and allowing myself to let them “in” to my life. It’s been moments of “being comfortable with the uncomfortable” in order to share the love of Christ with others. And in these moments I’ve been able to get to know another part of God’s love for me.
“Meet No Strangers” is loving on others, just as Christ would. It’s choosing to do things that most people, or maybe just some people, wouldn’t do, in order to show love to others so that they may know Christ.
Jesus left us with the perfect example. He did many things that people during His time thought shouldn’t be done. One example of this is in the book of John, chapter 4, when Jesus meets this Samaritan woman at the well. During His time, Jews avoided Samaritans – like the “stiff arm” type of avoidance. And to think about sharing anything with a Samaritan was unheard of. Yet Jesus saw this woman, He conversed with her, and He even used HER cup to drink from. Jesus even goes as far as to offer Himself as living water.
Love is the key in everything that is “Meet No Strangers”.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.Galatians 5: 14, niv
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.romans 13: 8, niv
Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.romans 13: 10, niv
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.1 corinthians 13: 3, niv
This is why I say love is the key to everything that is “Meet No Strangers”. I can do all these things for others, but not have love, and it would mean absolutely nothing!
But what is love?
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, niv
“Meet No Strangers” is seeing a need, and filling that need. It is loving without asking questions. It is blessing without looking for anything in return. It is being the bridge that connects someone to Christ.
My question to you is, how have you been living out “Meet No Strangers”? Share a story, or five, in the comments.