Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 19 August 21:
Luke 24:28-31 — “So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.”
The way we treat others and the way we love others on a daily basis impacts our relationship with God –
- 1 John 4:11, 12 — Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
- 1 John 4:16 — So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
- 1 Peter 3:7 — Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
- Matthew 25:45 — Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
- John 15:12 — This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Cleopas and the other disciple who walked with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus came to a metaphorical crossroads, though unrecognized to them – a decision point that seemed minor but was actually quite significant: As the stranger walking with them (Jesus) prepared to journey onward into the evening, they had to choose whether to be obedient to God’s word or not: “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.” (Leviticus 19:34)
The Bible demands special hospitality to sojourners and travelling strangers, and hospitality dictates that God’s people open their homes to travelers as Job proudly proclaimed was his standard practice – “the sojourner has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the traveler.” (Job 31:32) Remember at the city gate of Sodom, Lot insistently opened his home to two strangers who were in fact angels, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Genesis 19; Hebrews 13:2) Jesus used hospitality as a test when he sent out his disciples to evangelize – “He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you… shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’” (Mark 6:8-11)
So, Cleopas and his friend had a decision to make — invite the stranger to their home or let him go on his way. It was a small, quickly made decision. If they had said nothing, Jesus would have walked on, and that would have been the end of the story. No one would have called them out for their lack of hospitality as the decision would have gone unnoticed. Cleopas and his buddy would have gone on with their lives unaware of the opportunity they had missed due to their insensitivity to the will and activity of God.
However, the Bible says that they “urged him strongly.” Because of their obedience in this small matter of hospitality, “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.” They were faithful with a little thing and were given much, much more – their lives would never be the same again; they were first-hand witnesses to the risen Christ.
I believe God works much the same way in our lives. Every day we come to countless small decision points or crossroads, places where we must choose obedience or self-centeredness. It’s in the everyday, small decisions that our character is formed, where our spiritual eyes are opened (or closed), where we prove our readiness for greater things. We often ask, “What does God want me to do with my life?” But the answer is to walk in faithful obedience, one day at a time, making the most of every opportunity that God places before us, particularly during those seemingly insignificant moments. If we are faithful in the little decisions, God will reveal His bigger plan for us. If we are unfaithful in the little things, we will likely walk on contently, unaware of the great opportunities we missed.
I believe God is at work continually all around us, but we are often insensitive to his activity because we are distracted with the worries of the world and our own plans. We are very busy at work hoping that God will bless what we are doing, rather than seeking to become a part of what God is already doing in accordance with His plan. In our self-induced hurriedness, we walk right by countless “sojourners” without even noticing them, unaware of the great opportunities we missed. Jesus walked differently, always noticing and engaging that person in the crowd that everyone else was ignoring. Jesus saw what others couldn’t see because He was in tune with the Father, doing only what he saw is Father doing.
The disciples were often frustrated with Jesus when He became ‘distracted’ by those in need on the sidelines who, to them, were not the priority, not on the day’s schedule. Likewise, they worried when Jesus’ accessibility to people seemed to create demands they were not prepared to handle – “And the disciples said to him, ‘Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?’” (Matthew 15:33) Obedience to God in the moment requires faith which trusts God’s plan over your plan, and which is willing to address big issues with no clear solutions or to open cans of worms for the sake of love which others wouldn’t touch. In fact, responding faithfully in the moment might alter your entire course in life; many major ministries have been started unexpectantly by people who stopped to help just one person, never imagining that God would open their eyes to a life-long calling. Still others have walked past the opportunity, accomplishing their personal life goals, never realizing what could have been and could have done had they put God’s agenda first. What will God show you today if you walk in obedience to Him with your eyes open for His activity? What will happen today if, like the Good Samaritan, you are willing to stop what you are doing and go out of your way to put a stranger or someone else first in your life, despite the personal risk, cost, and discomfort of doing so? How might God ‘open your eyes’ and draw you closer to Him and to others in newfound levels of love, joy, and peace?
- Luke 10:30-37 — Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by CHANCE [emphasis added] a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
- Hebrews 13:2 — Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) –19 August 21: Today, focus on being faithful in the moment, keeping your eyes open for what God is doing in the lives of others around you and being a part of His activity, serving Him as His instrument and messenger of grace. Have the faith to deviate from your plan today for God’s plan.