Perhaps it was I watched one too many episodes of Touched by an Angel. Maybe it was simply the mystery behind it. Whatever the reason, as a child, I loved the verse that reminds us showing hospitality to strangers may mean we entertain angels unaware (Heb. 13:2).
But just what does this verse mean for practicing hospitality and are there angels walking around today?
The word translated angel literally means “messenger.” This could refer to an angelic being, a human messenger (i.e. pastor, prophet, missionary et.), or perhaps both. Regardless of the agent, it’s in reference to a person who delivers a message from God.
Many Jews considered Abraham to be the epitome of hospitality. In Genesis 18, Abraham ran to meet three men on the road and offered them food and drink, not knowing they were angelic beings. This famous verse in Hebrews may reference Father Abraham.
But, perhaps it’s not so important who the “angel” is so much as the fact that believers are to exhibit hospitality all the time. We are to treat all people as potential messengers from God.
When we practice hospitality toward those we don’t know, we never know what God may accomplish.
God may have a message for us about contentment from the homeless man on the street or a message about compassion from a worker in your child’s school.
Maybe it’s simply the fact that He wants us to be hospitable, messengers who show His grace to the world—letting others know of the most hospitable One they could ever know, the God who invites us to live with Him forever.