Summary: A stranger may be an unlikely friend waiting to be made or they may be an opportunity to worship God as you show hospitality to them. Christ has loved us and in response we are to love others. God’s love knows no borders. We are to love others the way t
God’s Love Knows No Borders, Leviticus 19:33-34
In a large stone cathedral in Europe there was a large, magnificent pipe organ. It was a Saturday afternoon, and the sexton was making one final check of the choir and organ loft high in the balcony at the back of the church. He was startled to hear footsteps echoing up the stone stairway, as he thought the doors were all locked and no one was around. He turned to see a man in slightly tattered traveling clothes coming toward him. “Excuse me, sir,” the stranger said. “I have come from quite a distance to see the great organ in this cathedral. Would you mind opening the console so that I might get a closer look at it?” The custodian at first refused, but the stranger seemed so eager and insistent that he finally gave in. “May I sit on the bench?” That request of the stranger was met with absolute refusal by the cathedral custodian. “What if the organist came in and found you sitting there? I would probably lose my job!” But again the stranger was so persistent that the sexton gave in. “But only for a moment,” he added.
The custodian noticed that the stranger seemed to be very much at home on the organ bench, so he was not completely surprised when he was asked by the stranger to be allowed to play the organ. “No! Definitely not!” said the custodian. “No one is allowed to play it except the cathedral organist.” The man’s face fell, and his deep disappointment was obvious. He reminded the custodian how far he had come and assured him that no damage would be done. Finally the sexton relented and told the stranger he could play the instrument, but only a few notes and then he would have to leave. Overjoyed, the stranger pulled out some stops and began to play. Suddenly the cathedral was filled with the most beautiful music the custodian had ever heard in all his years in that place. The music seemed to transport him heavenward.
In what seemed all too short a time, the dowdy stranger stopped playing and slid off the organ bench. And started down the stairway. “Wait!” cried the custodian. “That was the most beautiful music I have ever heard in the cathedral. Who are you?” The stranger turned for just a moment as he replied, “Mendelssohn.” The man was none other than Felix Mendelssohn, one of the greatest organists and composers of the nineteenth century!
The cathedral sexton was alone now in that great stone edifice, the beautiful organ music still ringing in his ears. “Just think,” he said softly, “I almost kept the master from playing his music in my cathedral!”
The cathedral sexton almost missed out on the beauty of hearing the music of one of the greatest organ musicians that the world has known due to his reluctance to honor a stranger who had made his way into the cathedral.
I wonder how much beautiful music you and I have missed out on because we fail to honor the strangers in our lives. How often do we miss out on the joy of hearing the music of another’s life because someone is a stranger to us?
What wondrous sounds are ringing forth from the lives of others around us that fall on our ears, as though we are deaf – purely for a lack of choosing to listen?
Leviticus 19:33-34 is today’s Scripture. It reads, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 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.” (ESV)
Pastor Erwin W. Lutzer of The Moody Church in Chicago said, “Hospitality is a test for godliness because those who are selfish do not like strangers (especially needy ones) to intrude upon their private lives. They prefer their own friends who share their life-style. Only the humble have the necessary resources to give of themselves to those who could never give of themselves in return.”
Hospitality seems like a forgotten word on our culture. I remember when I was a child growing in a large family, there were always aunts & uncles, cousins, neighbors, family, and friends around my grandmother’s house.
Her house was a beehive of sounds of conversation, smells of cornbread and beans, but of all it was full of a casual, hospitable atmosphere. Why is it that so many have forgotten the value of hospitality? Why is it that so many have stopped listening for the sounds of the music radiating from the lives of others?
The writer of this text in Leviticus is specifically speaking to the Israelites. The writer is encouraging them to be hospitable to strangers who settle among them in order that they should be brought to the knowledge and worship of the true God.