From Hostility to Hospitality

“He is the embodiment of our peace, sent once and for all to take down the great barrier of hatred and hostility that has divided us so that we can be one. He offered His body on the sacrificial altar to bring an end to the law’s ordinances and dictations that separated Jews from the outside nationsHis desire was to create in His body one new humanity from the two opposing groups, thus creating peace. Effectively the cross becomes God’s means to kill off the hostility once and for all so that He is able to reconcile them both to God in this one new body” (Ephesians 2:14-16, The Voice).

Chris Brooks brought another fantastic message to Kairos tonight that I much needed to hear. It was rooted in Ephesians 2:11-21 about how we were once hostile to God and everything He stood for, but through Christ we have been reconciled and brought into right relationship with God.

His mantra throughout the last few weeks has been “And you . . . but God . . . all grace.” As in and you were lost and far from the promise, but God made you alive and redeemed a sinner into a son and now your life is all grace.

He said something again that struck me. He said that maybe those Muslims that we keep hearing about aren’t the greatest threat to Christianity, but it’s greatest prize. Maybe what they need to see is not our retaliation with further hostility but our hospitality in welcoming them with the gospel message the way God once welcomed us through that same message.

Only through Christ can an enemy truly be transformed into a friend and a stranger become a brother. Only through the grace and mercy of God can so many different kinds of people previously estranged from each other be invited to the same table to sit together and enjoy each other’s company.

So many times churches and communities of faith have looked like people encircled with arms locked, facing inward and more determined to keep the wrong people out than to let the right ones in.

The true gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to stand outward with arms not locked but outstretched in welcoming those who feel disenfranchised and alienated from every other group to come sit at the table of fellowship. We offer the same Christ to others who brought us along from citizenship to family to living stones in the temple of God.

I love that the gospel of grace is still for those who don’t quite fit in and don’t have their acts together. The message of hope is still for those who continually mess up socially and financially and in every other way possible. The truth that still sets us free is still for the outcast and downtrodden and used-up and for those who are still in bondage to the lies and addictions that were sold under the guise of liberation.

The gospel is still for you and me. The gospel is for everyone.

 

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