Breaking Down Barriers

The sermon this past Sunday was entitled “Family Values.” The preaching passage came from Hebrews 13:1-6 where among other things, the Hebrew writer says, “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

While the context is dealing with the spiritual attitude and values that Christians ought to display toward others in society, the thought that hit home with me is that attitudes begin at home before extending outward to others! I didn’t have the good fortune of having a brother growing up, (I was the only boy in a family full of girls!), but I’ve heard others tell of how brothers can fight like cats & dogs one minute and be best friends the next! It reminds me that in the family of God, we may have disagreements from time to time but we should always come back at the end of the day to remember the love that we have for one another! A family doesn’t put conditions on their love for one another…they just love! Skinny or fat, tall or short, hairy or bald, we love each other because we’re family! So let brotherly, (family), love continue. Don’t grow out of it; don’t stop showing it to one another. The Hebrews writer reminds us that this is our value system among Christians in our love toward one another.

Now when we understand this first part, it’s not hard to understand the second part about the value of practicing hospitality toward strangers! The passage sometimes gets people unnecessarily confused by mentioning the word ‘angels’. The truth of the matter is that the Hebrews writer is reminding Christians to take the next step in their faith by showing hospitality toward others! Christians should do this as a way of life and in the process you’ll never know when you may be showing kindness to one of God’s angels, (a fellow Christian or potential Christian perhaps), unaware.

You see, people can tell a difference between someone who is genuine, loving and kind and one who is being nice because they have to be. I remember an old TV skit where the mom is yelling at the kids and calling her husband everything but a child of God and then the telephone rings and she suddenly becomes the sweetest, kindest person on earth answering, ‘Hell-oooooo’.

Our Christianity should not be like that. We should strive to be as kind, helpful and accepting toward others as we are toward our friends and family. In the process, we let people see the kind of family values Christians represent! Not just on Sundays when we smile and shake hands but in the everyday opportunities of life when people are searching for acceptance or just needing a friend!

We sing the song, what a friend we have in Jesus but when we understand our family values in Christ we ask ourselves the question, can others find a friend in me? Now there’s something we should think about this week!

John P.

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