Though often found in Christianeze – sojourner‘s closest Greek and Hebrew word-cousins refer to the alien, the traveler, the UNlocal just passing through. In 3 John, a small and often overlooked epistle – we find celebration and praise of the believer who truly gets what it means embody hospitality. No, not just to friends and family, but to those who just may be passing through, the sojourner. The word sojourner is powerful, I believe, because if we are honest – we all are sojourners on this big blue marble. Yes, there has certainly been a time in most of our lives when someone has welcomed our weary bones well, and boy, didn’t we appreciate it?! That soft pillow, that warm meal – even a simple hug and prayer.
So this coming Sunday we’ll be considering the sojourner and that 3 John text – especially as it ties to a young military family ready to leave their hometown of Cville and begin their trek as full-time sojourners. When they leave they will take their two young sons (toddler and infant) but before that happens they seek the blessing of their temporary faith community, PSCC. It is such an honor to love and embrace this family, sending them off with our blessing to love and live well as Christ followers and sojourners.
So as a pastor, I am currently obsessed with this idea of investing in the passer by? Well…because it has been part of our North American Christian community to seek growth in membership. Snag ’em and tag ’em not only for God’s Kingdom, but especially as invested, long-term members and contributors to our local church. Look, I am not saying that membership and commitment to one’s local congregation is a bad thing. I love me some dedicated hard working church members…don’t get me wrong. But if we only invest in those who we think will stick around the longest – …what are we to do with those just passing by? Ignore them? Just give them a quick hand shake and pat on the back? In 3 John the answer is clearly, no. As in Mosaic law – the theme of caring for those passing through continues – leaving enough of one’s bounty/harvest/field for the widow, the orphan and the sojourner/alien. Giving to someone who may never give back is tough for the best of us…. but until we all remember when those arms of simple welcome wrapped around us, and blessed our journey – we most certainly will miss the opportunity to bless others…as they sojourn on.
3 John 1:5-8
Model the Good
5-8 Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They’ve made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.