Hmm… Yes, That’s Interesting. But What About The Angels?

How can a person such as Agent X look at million dollar charitable operations such as you find in Lubbock, Texas, and cry foul?  And is that even fair?

Agent X has been engaged in street ministry on the streets of Lubbock since 2004, and has reached out to the homeless particularly since the all-night prayer vigil held at the Mahon Library in October of 2009.  I  went to the streets as a representative of the church specifically.  I was sent.  I never stopped being a churchman at root.  I represent a church tradition that historically took the Bible as the basis for all we do, and I have sought to maintain that basis every step of the way.

So it is ironic that the Fat Beggars School of Prophets are so deeply opposed to the community outreach and so profoundly critical of the church in Lubbock.  And the system of outreach ministries, the network of churches and charitable organizations, in Lubbock is quite impressive.  We boast a million dollar operation!  There is a lot of care bound up in all that!  Surely!

Homeless people in Lubbock, as a matter of regular operating procedure, receive offerings of food, clothing, medical care, housing, shelter, counseling of various sorts – lots and lots of assistance.  None of this is denied, and insofar as those terms characterize the situation, even I am impressed.

So where is the rub?

Perhaps I am just an unreasonable critic – one who should be ignored as far as possible.  Perhaps I am “legalist” and out of step with “church” and the times.  (Actually, I am quite sure I am out of step with the “church” and the times!)  So does that accurately portray me?  And should I be marginalized?

Look closely.

For the sake of argument (in fact, if you listen or read me closely, you will find I don’t typically go there), let’s just bypass instances of neglect and abuse of power that I personally have seen and witnessed – that I have heard the homeless complain about time and time again ever since day one.  Let’s not even consider corruption or potential corruption of the system for the moment.

Let’s just go back to the Bible for the sake of listening to God.

Novel idea, I know, but let’s just consider it for a moment.

I mean… Yeah, all that service deployed by the 501c3’s, networked with churches and government agencies, banks, grants, coffee shops, and donations raised through fundraisers and awareness campaigns certainly is interesting.  Yeah.

But what about the angels?

(Already, I can hear a serious, Bible-minded person saying: “Angels?”  What about Jesus??  What about God, the Father and Holy Spirit???  And while I am sensitive to those questions, bear with me a bit.  I think you will find them among the angels.)

So, again WHAT ABOUT THE ANGELS?

This is where I turn to Hebrews 13:2.  “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

This is NOT a message FOR 501c3 organizations, FOR government agencies, FOR networks of these organizations which also happens to INVOLVE churches.  Though I in no way mean to exclude any of that, the message IS, nonetheless, FOR the church, and even if we don’t exclude these other organizations, we MUST NOT THEREBY EXCLUDE THE CHURCH from this address.

No.  First and foremost, this message is for the church, but if the church neglects the hospitality of strangers in favor of leaving it’s outreach in the hands of the professionals, then WHAT ABOUT THE ANGELS?

And if the church is neglecting hospitality to strangers, and thus the entertainment of angels, then where is the hope the church offers to the world?

Yes, this is deeply theological, but that does not make it any less practical.  If Christine Pohl is correct in her observations, it was the church’s hospitality expressed not only to fellow church members, but to strangers – the poor outside the church – amid the Roman Empire which caught imperial attention (even making the Roman Empire jealous because of the allegiance this won for Jesus Christ!).*  In fact, it is quite probable that this jealousy and the imperial response to the church proved to be the earliest expressions of what has come to be known as the “hospitality industry” – a Roman corruption of this Christian practice driven by Mammon.

Sit with that a moment.

Let’s call that practical theology.

But it still leaves open the question: What about the angels?

There is little doubt that the writer of Hebrews has in mind the hospitality of Abe and Sarah in Genesis 18 when this statement about hospitality entertaining angels comes to bear.  And for our purpose, there are two observations about that story which jump right to the front: 1) Among the three strangers is the Angel of the Lord (presumably God in person) and 2) Abe and Sarah never have this revealed to them – thus they entertain the angels “unawares.”

Thus the hospitality we are told not to neglect is one of the ways, if not the main one, in which God comes into your life!  This is particularly important stuff for believers, for believers as individuals, as families, as congregations of churches!  Want God in your house?  Invite the stranger.  And there is no guarantee you will know if this stranger is God, his Angel or one of his angels.  You too may very well entertain the angels unawares.

But we have plenty of biblical evidence that God/Jesus shows up to the hospitality of believers all through the Bible.  Sometimes this is revealed to the host(s) before the meal is done (Luke 24:31).  But whether we ever recognize him personally or not, we are assured that when we give drink, food, clothing, and more (all marks of Christian hospitality by the way) to the “least of these,” which pretty much always means the poor, we show hospitality to Jesus himself (Matt. 25:31-46).

So… again let me ask: WHAT ABOUT THE ANGELS???

Yeah.  Million dollar budgets, conglomerations and consortiums and alliances and networks of 501c3’s, government agencies, banks, coffee shops, and even the inclusion of the local police department all taking the lead in dropping crumbs from the community table for the poor so that the church need not be overly taxed is interesting stuff.

Hmm… yes, very interesting.  But what about the angels?

Revelation 3:20… anyone???

 

* see Pohl, Christine D.,in her 1999 book: Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, published by Eerdmans, pages 43-44.

 

4 comments

  1. Spy Vs Spy · December 3, 2019

    Wow! I think you’re on to an important consideration with this question.

    In point of fact professional social workers – work their “clients” as cases – even as they attempt to treat them with the richness of humanity, kindness, gentleness, and empathy. They are with rare exception going to “spiritualize” the people they meet/deal with – which also means they’re unlikely to treat them (re: Matthew 25) like they are Jesus or a visitation of angels either.

    Indeed rising to take that point of view unfortunately is likely not to be seen even in a great many church-based ministries which of course ought to be the hot house for those ideas to take root and grow!

    Oh, my brother this is rich!

    Herein I also think it is important to realize you’ve found a place the needs plowing, seeding and farming like a farmer/husbandry worker does when he encounters a barren or weeded over piece of ground currently fruitless. Teach us and lead on kindly, and gently my brother these are delicious ideas wherein heaven might touch the Earth in it’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. harolene · December 4, 2019

    I agree with you , you already know that right ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. anonymous~ · September 14, 2020

    Such a beautiful post!
    Thank you Agent X. This is definitely for the ones seeking God. To deeply, and often meditate on this truth will Kindle a flame of love for our neighbors! Thank you again for your wonderful post.
    God bless you and your family!
    PS: I hope you know that God loves you very much, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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