“…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” —Matthew 25:35-36
The Greek word xenos in Matthew 25:35 translates to stranger. In this passage, Jesus describes to His followers one of the markers of true discipleship: generosity and compassion toward people on the margins of society—the incarcerated, the poor and the stranger.
The United Nations estimates that international migrants numbered around 272 million globally in 2019, people who left their usual country of residence to live in a nation not their own. Strangers can be found virtually everywhere. This provides followers of Jesus the opportunity and joy of Kingdom living right where we are—to love and serve the strangers in our midst just as we would love and serve Jesus.
Read Isaiah 58:6-12 and Matthew 25:34-40. Who is the stranger in your world? Is it your neighbor down the street, a woman in a burka at the mall, a migrant worker in your town, people you read about in the news who are suffering from war? Pray for each of them and ask God to show you how you might welcome these strangers to become friends instead.