Reading: Hebrews 13:1-8
Verse 1: “Keep on loving each other as brothers [and sisters].”
Hebrews concludes with a call to love. The writer encourages them to “Keep on loving each other as brothers [and sisters].” The call is both within and without. Strangers are listed first. The concept of hospitality was a key practice in Judaism that certainly carried over into Christianity. Jesus lived out this practice, relying on people in towns and villages to take he and his disciples into their homes.
Hospitality is extended outward with the call to “remember those in prison.” This often meant visiting fellow Christians who had been jailed for refusing to worship the emperor (or other Romans gods) or for some other offense to the empire. To visit one imprisoned for their faith was both an act of courage and of solidarity. The author also extends hospitality to those being mistreated. This extends hospitality to the poor, to the oppressed, to the outcasts, and to all other marginalized people and groups in society. The net is cast wide. For Christians, hospitality extended to all people.
The foundation of hospitality is love. It is the force within that drives the observable actions of hospitality. This force is attractional. To see one risking freedom to visit and care for a brother or sister in Christ who is imprisoned for their faith draws notice. To care for and stand up for the suffering gets noticed. To step outside of one’s comfort zone and social circles to help end oppression, to include the outcast in community, to love others towards Christ – this is what it means to keep on loving each other. With courage and grace may we practice this kind of love.
Prayer: Lord God, empower me to love well today. Grant me the courage and the grace to love all I meet, especially those on the margins. Use me today to help others know my love and your love. Amen.