My mother delighted my sisters and me with her creative spin on the English language. By far, the expression we loved the best and repeated the most was "Shut the rain, the windows are coming in." She would shout this to us whenever a summer storm blew in. We dutiful daughters would then run through the house and close the windows.
The runner-up to "shut the rain, the windows are coming in" happened one evening as we said good-bye to company who had come for dinner. At my mother's house, guests neither arrived nor departed without a fuss being made over them, and that evening was no different. As our family friends walked down the front walk, my mother called out, "Be strange!" (a rather loose translation of "Don't be a stranger.")
For weeks on end, her dutiful daughters repeated to each other, "Be strange," as if any of us needed encouragement in that direction.
Actually, my mother had no idea that she had uttered a profound biblical truth. She didn't have time for heady talk about a Scripture passage. If the Word said to practice hospitality, then she would do just that. It didn't matter who you were or what you did for a living, the door to our home was open. In retrospect, I am sure we entertained angels disguised as strangers.
That brings us back to the profound truth that as followers of Jesus we are strangers in this world, but we don't treat other people as strangers. We love them. And that's strange, especially in our insular society and partisan world.
Our band of followers includes the likes of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who "acknowledged that that they were strangers and exiles on earth" (see Hebrews 11:13) and being strangers who didn't realize that they were paid an amazing compliment, "of whom the world was not worthy." (Hebrews 11:38)
The Apostles and church fathers didn't have time to squawk about first ammendment rights or call a center for law and justice to defend them. Those things didn't exist back then. They were preoccuppied with faithfully following Jesus, taking the gospel to all nations, ending up hiding in caves or being sawed in two, telling a jailer about Jesus or praying to be faithful when they faced the jaws of a lion or a gladiator's sword.
We are a "peculiar people." (1 Peter 2:9, KJV) We are not a voting bloc or cultural movement or naysayers. We are more than that. We are followers of Jesus, who had "nowhere to lay his head." We are strangers en route to a better country.
So to quote my mother who has been in that better country for a few years, "Be strange."