Finding Christ in a Stranger: Encouragement as Discipleship
After a long, rainy day meandering Frankfurt capturing photos, I retired to a coffee shop near my hotel. Comfortably seating about ten people, hole-in-the-wall is a pretty good description of this cafe. I placed my bag down and approached the counter to order a drink. My English betrayed my American identity when I ordered. “Oh, American!” said the barista.
“Where are you from?” he continued. “Chicago!” I answered enthusiastically, sparking a conversation as he frothed the milk of my latte. Handing me the coffee, I exchanged my credit card for his art in a mug. “Oh we don’t accept ca…” he started saying before interrupting himself. “Don’t worry about it; this one is on me.” Despite my insistence to pay with cash, he prevailed in giving me a free drink…then a sandwich…and finally a soda to wash it all down. I promised to return the next day with one stipulation—that he let me pay. With a laugh, he agreed and we parted ways with a hug.
Unanticipated hospitality kindled a friendship.
Throughout the week I visited Angelico, enjoying entertaining conversations about German culture, religion, and politics. Behind the burly stature of this barista, Angelico showcased a genuine heart for people. He shared how he recently invited a needy stranger who stumbled into the coffee shop to live with him. As he told this story, Angelico began to remind me of something Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 25. “I was a stranger and you invited me in…Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” I shared this with Angelico, he believed in the principle of hospitality but not in the Person who taught it.
While Angelico did not hold the same beliefs about Jesus as I do, I saw Christ in him. His hospitality extended past me to the way he treated strangers he encountered. Just as the Samaritan was commended in Jesus’ parable in Luke 10 for loving his neighbor despite religious differences, so Angelico reminded me that love and hospitality is never to be limited to those we think deserve it. Sometimes it is those who believe differently than us who can challenge our hearts most on what it means to love our neighbor.
In our quest to share the love of Jesus with people, are we humble enough to learn from them as well?
Christ’s humility, radical inclusion, and commending of the outsider are earmarks of the gospel He preached. Jesus often admonished and encouraged those who, on the surface, were far from God. Think of Zacchaeus, the Roman centurion, or the woman at the well. May we be people marked by Jesus’ humility to commend Christlike qualities in people who may not even know Him and may our humility to learn from others be a testimony of His love to those still far from Him.
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About the authors:
Grant and Naomi are storytellers with Greater Europe Mission and will also be serving in Birmingham, England. Check out grantandnaomi.com to learn more.