A couple of weeks ago my job put me in quite the interesting situation with an elderly customer. The customer had somehow gotten a hold of my business card and for an entire week called me in regards to technical issues he had been having. The company I work for generally handles these issues through our technical support team and not my sales department. By the end of the week and a long list of calls, the customer was in tears which simply boiled down to him needing a new remote control. Instead of me referring him yet again to our technicians, I told him I would personally deliver the remote to his house and sync it to his television and his cable box. The next morning, on my day off, I called the gentleman and headed over to his home – about to begin an adventure I will never forget.
Upon arriving at his door, he greeted me with a big smile, welcomed me by name and before I could enter his house he handed me a soft, delicious, fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie! With a gleam in his eye he said, “You have got to take a bite of my chocolate chip cookie! This is the best cookie you will ever have. I baked it just for you!” What a kind man! How could he have known that chocolate chip cookies are my favorite? There’s nothing as phenomenal as a rich, chocolate-infused, hot out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie! Of course I gladly obliged him and took a bite and the man was right - the cookie tasted phenomenal! My first words were, “Sir, that’s awesome” and with that he encouraged me to eat the whole thing before I got started. Why? He told me yet again, "This is the best cookie you will ever have!" So I laughed at his enthusiasm and quickly ate the entire cookie.
Ten minutes later I had his new remote set up and his cable and television in sync with each other. The elderly man (who had spent the better part of those 10 minutes frantically watching his oven so as not to overcook five cookies) thanked me again for coming out and with a big smile said, “Have a great day!” What seemed strange was that for my entire visit the man was completely disengaged from me helping him with his remote and instead he was totally engrossed with baking five cookies. “Who bakes five cookies?”, I thought to myself. It was obvious he was acting a little weird but this is Portland. Who isn’t weird every now and then...Right? With that I got into my car and driving off I headed to the nearest Target to pick up an item I needed.
As I drove off, I started having the feeling that something was wrong with me. You know that queasy feeling you get while riding the Tilt-A-Whirl at a theme park after eating a big hot dog in 100 degree weather. Yah, that feeling! Within 2 minutes from the customer’s house, I pulled over to throw up, followed by a loss of breath, a brutal bout of feeling nauseous, a panic attack, incredible happiness (which included an episode of talking to myself so loud I drew attention at Target) followed by 2 hours of sleep and a headache that lasted 2 days. Unbeknownst to me I was welcomed to the world of “Stranger Danger” and homemade chocolate chip cookies made in Oregon! Yes, this is what happens when a friendly non-assuming preacher eats cookies baked with cannabis butter – and a lot of it. Since that day I have had both my friends and work colleagues ask me them same question every time, “Shian, you ate the cookie?!?”
Hebrews chapter 13:2 states, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.”
What can I say? The reason I ate the cookie was because I thought the guy might be an angel. I know, nice try right? But the point the writer of Hebrews was making is found in the verse before this one. “Let brotherly love continue.” Yes, I learned my lesson two weeks ago in reminding myself that there needs to be a healthy level of stranger danger with new people I meet, but the point being made is that as you continue in brotherly love, don’t ever forget to extend that love to complete strangers. We often get too comfortable in our Christian bubble that we forget to love outside our four walls. We forget to show love to the homeless, the broken, the widows, the fatherless and the complete strangers. I love how the verse ends in the scripture, “…for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Pretty cool isn’t it? Just the thought of knowing that the stranger we show love towards may not be who we think he/she really is!
My take away is that it’s best to love the stranger and judge the danger - unless the danger is chocolate chip cookies of course!