CLOSING THE GAP
“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”
// Hebrew 13:1-3
Hopefully most of us would find it fairly easy to live out this scripture during a Sunday morning church service. We see someone, a friend or new face, walking in the doors for the first time and we greet them, start chatting, and maybe even sit with them during service. We are in a safe zone – there is rhythm and flow to the situation – with Jesus as the obvious common denominator. It’s not a large leap to show hospitality and welcome them in with loving arms.
Fast forward to Monday morning. We are all on our commute, passing hundreds upon thousands of fellow New Yorkers who do anything and everything to avoid eye contact. If you’re from a small town where you say hello to the person walking past you in the store or wave to the car sitting at the stop sign across from you, whether you know them or not, you’ve probably had a hard time adjusting to this. Moving to New York you quickly realized that if you took the cultural norm from home and applied it here not only would people think you were crazy, it would actually be impossible to greet every individual you passed during your day. The rhythm and the flow from Sunday simply doesn’t translate into Monday. So, what do we do when we’re frustrated by the gap between the two? Go to Jesus and ask Him to show us how we can serve this massive city without having to trade our Sunday hearts for Monday masks.
The above passage is a strong anchor and guide. The first verse carries so much freedom for us – we are not being asked to use our own strength to love one another; instead we have access to draw from what already exists. The love we show our dearest friends or complete strangers can be the same, because it is a direct overflow of the love Jesus has lavished on us. Jesus has already carried the weight. When we catch this, our mission to love others shifts from being a humanly-overwhelming challenge to a light and exciting privilege. The Holy Spirit has divine connections mapped out for us – if we want them we simply have to lean in and listen to Him, instead of frantically running around the city seeking them out.
When we spend time with Jesus in prayer we learn His characteristics, His language, which in turn enables us to use His heart to love. Whether it’s someone we know or a complete stranger, Jesus equips us to help break the chains the enemy has placed on their lives. Jesus helps us to lift them up and carry them out from behind the prison door He already unlocked on the Cross. We close the gap. And closing the gap between the way we love and serve others on a Sunday versus any otherday of the week reveals the fullness of His love.
// Cassy Flowers