March 11, 2021

Twin Cities

You shall love the alien as yourself.
Leviticus 19:34
Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hebrews 13 beautifully opens with the words, Let mutual love continue. In the Greek, that word mutual love is the very familiar philadelphia—traditionally translated as brotherly love. This is followed in the next verse (as in Romans 12:13) by the less familiar philoxenia, which refers to hospitality to strangers. It's not really possible to live a Christian life without commuting between these twin cities of Philadelphia and Philoxenia.

But they're not just for Christians. Leviticus 19 tells the Hebrews that they must love both their neighbor and the stranger as much as themselves. To be true to the God of Israel, therefore, is to love not just those who are like us—who live near us, who follow our religion, who speak our language—but to love those who are different, those we don't understand, those whose faith differs from ours.

We can and should debate immigration. But for people of faith, what's not up for debate is how much we should love the immigrant. The answer is, as much as we love ourselves.
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Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Extend hospitality to strangers.
 Romans 12:13
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
Teach my heart hospitality, Lord. As you have brought me near to you by the blood of Christ, may I love my neighbor and welcome those who are far away.

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