May 5th, 2007
Migrants to a country would be able to tell you the disadvantages of being an outsider. Everyone likes to feel that they belong somewhere, that they have family and friends and a community of people who understand them and share the same values. If you’re a bit different, if you don’t speak the same language, if you don’t eat the same food, if you don’t wear the same clothes or engage in the same pastimes, then you mightn’t fit in. People might not publicly or deliberately ostracise you; it might just happen in subtle unintentional ways. Being an outsider can be a very lonely and soul-destroying thing…
The Letter to the Hebrews — Chapter 13
13:1 Continue to show brotherly love. 13:2 Do not forget to be hospitable to strangers. By doing this some people have unknowingly shown hospitality to angels. 13:3 Remember people who are in prison, as if you were in prison with them, and remember people who are being persecuted, as if it was happening to you. 13:4 Marriage should be highly respected by everyone. Do not let the bed be contaminated. God will judge sexually immoral people and adulterers.
13:5 Keep the love of money out of your lifestyle, and be happy with what you have, because he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” 13:6 We can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can humans do to me?”
13:7 Remember your leaders, people who explained the word of God to you. Examine the results of their actions, and copy their faith. 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 13:9 Do not be carried away by strange kinds of teachings, because it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by rules about food, which have not benefitted anyone.
13:10 We have an altar from which the priests who serve in the tabernacle have no right to eat. 13:11 The bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside of the camp. 13:12 Jesus also suffered outside of the gate to make the people holy through his own blood. 13:13 So we need to go outside the camp to him, sharing his disgrace. 13:14 We have no lasting city on earth, but we look forward to the one which is coming. 13:15 Through Jesus we should continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, the output of lips which declare his name. 13:16 But do not forget to do good and share what you have, because such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
13:17 Obey your leaders and defer to them. They watch over you, and one day will be held accountable. Make this a pleasure for them, and not a burden, because that would not help you.
13:18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a good conscience, and want to live honourably in every respect. 13:19 I particularly ask you to pray that I can return to you soon.
13:20 May the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 13:21 supply you with everything good so that you can do his will. May he work in us as he pleases, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
13:22 Friends, I urge you to pay attention to what I am saying, because this letter which I have written is brief. 13:23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been freed. If he gets here in time, I will bring him with me when I come to see you. 13:24 Greet all your leaders and all the believers. The people from Italy send their greetings. 13:25 Grace be with you all.