, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sieger Koder: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Mark 2:16

Koder was an artist who painted startling folky paintings featuring child-like simplicity of the characters, and depicting Jesus by reflection rather than description. We don’t actually see Jesus in this painting; we see people around the table looking at Him – and it looks for all the world that they seem to be looking at… You. You are the person through whom Jesus practices radical hospitality.

In Mark 2, Jesus isn’t “hosting” this meal. His hospitality, so to speak, is to enjoy the hospitality of others. Jesus eats with “tax collectors and sinners” – like you and me. The funny thing is: even His friends around the table knew it – partly because Jesus said that out loud:

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mk 2:17).

The Kingdom comes Near

Jesus is a curious mixture of paradox, isn’t He? Welcoming, yes… but not quite affirming (as our culture uses the term these days), is He? Jesus is practicing radical hospitality by befriending people like you and me – and – He is calling people to repent from a self-referenced life; He is not affirming sin. This is “the Kingdom coming near”; the kingdom of God comes through the person of Jesus coming near, and whatever repentance we manage begins not with us, but with His coming near first.

Though He calls us to repent for the kingdom of God is near, not everyone around that table went on to follow Jesus. Not everyone started to repent, but the Kingdom came near none the less (even now). Jesus befriends sinners – and – He’s completely open about the fact that He considers them sick, in need of a doctor! Is this grace and truth in practice? Is this radical hospitality?

I don’t know what radical hospitality looks like – other than the ordinary ways we welcome people into our lives. Sometimes being hospitable means we are open to receiving it; accepting people where and how they are – and – being a person honest about where and how you are.

It’s not just about ideas and beliefs. It’s about the cost of discipleship itself. We pick up our cross – to join Jesus on His cross – to be part of what is most on His heart: to seek and save the lost through the generosity and hospitality of His friendship.

Practice Radically Ordinary Hospitality:

Thus I was fascinated with a recent interview with Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in a Our Post-Christian World, “who recounts her own encounter with radically ordinary hospitality as an unbelieving lesbian—sharing how God used such hospitality to break down her preconceived ideas about Christians and get her reading the Bible for herself. She highlights the importance of engaging the LGBTQ community with boldness and love, encouraging us to pursue flesh-and-blood friendships with those who don’t yet know Christ.”

To hear her story, listen to this podcast “Christians, the LGBTQ Community, and the Call to Hospitality.”  In the interview she says she was faced with one key question:

Is being a lesbian who you are, or is it how you are?” Is it who you are organically—we would say as a Christian, ontologically—or is it how you are because of original sin? Is it the authentic you, or is it Adam’s thumbprint on you?

Identity and Personhood:

Butterfield encourages us to embrace the role of affirming human dignity – to remind people we are image bearers of the living God:

“Realize that the LGBTQ rights movement is trying desperately to award dignity to each and every person in that community. And that’s something that, as a Christian, you should be able to appreciate because that is what the gospel does for all who embrace Jesus Christ. The gospel is an award of dignity. The image-bearing of a believer is an awarded dignity. So we should help our neighbors, we should get to know our neighbors in ways that do in fact respect and value them. Not because of their sexuality, and the way the LGBTQ rights movement would have you do it, but because of what God has already said: This is my image-bearer. This may be someone who does not know how to reflect my image in knowledge, and righteousness, and holiness, but all of the material is there.”

For more, go to “Christians, the LGBTQ Community and the Call to Hospitality.

For more on faith and sexuality, see “Livingout.org” for excellent resources.

I have written numerous articles in the theme of personhood, and invite you to consider them in light of the current discussion. For more see Timothy Keller’s presentation on “Living out Identity in Christ.”

I also invite your informed response, but first: please see “Before Commenting on a Controversial Topic.”

This is more enigma than dogma.