It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.–3 John 1:7-8
Perhaps you read ahead from yesterday’s passage and sat at your computer clucking at me, wagging a finger and accusing me of taking those verses out of context. Let me assure you that I realized John was not here suggesting that we give to every believer. However, I don’t really care, since I can marshal plenty of other references that do command us to care for every believer. But let’s look to the particular strange brothers mentioned in yesterday’s verses.
It seems that the visiting brothers mentioned in 3 John 1:5-6 were missionaries of some sort. That makes them not only strange brothers but stranger brothers. For the life of me, I can’t think of many vocations much stranger than being a missionary. Take an old church-mate of mine, Mark. Mark gave up a fine job–better than mine–and a fine house–better than mine–and, worst of all, a 1965 Corvette. He moved from the splendor and comfort of American suburbs to the squalor and unease of Kenya. In fact, he and his family had to beat feet out of Kenya a few months ago when political violence broke out. Is there anything much stranger than somebody willingly choosing that sort of a life?
Perhaps I’m disclosing myself as terribly unspiritual, but I regularly thank God for not calling me to full-time missionary work. I can’t see myself in Kenya or China or Yemen or even inner-city Houston. I haven’t been called to that sort of thing, which is good, because I know that when you are called, it’s awfully hard to resist. Those who are called tend to be–well–stranger than me.
Only a minority hears that call to active missions, but all of us have a call to support missions, just as the church to whom John writes. We can support individuals going on mission trips financially or in other ways–maybe just mowing their grass. We can give money to missionary organizations. We can host missionaries when they come into our presence. This is a call for all of us, and we will be blessed when we answer it, just as Mark was blessed when he sold that Corvette.