A sermon by Northside Missionary, Jonathan Hanegan
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Have you ever thought of God as divine host of creation?
God created the earth as a home for human beings in order that we might know Him and be in fellowship with Him. He created a space – Creation; this world with which we have such a tenuous relationship - as a place to encounter Him and one another. His provision of this place, to meet Him and discover the good life that Christ offers, is how He is hospitable to us. In turn, He has given us a special charge: to be co-hosts of Creation with Him.
If God is redeeming creation and all those who call on his name and we, as co-workers with Christ, fellow laborers in the Gospel, are called to participate in what He is doing, then we too are called to participate in the redemption of all creation! This is where hospitality comes in.
Hospitality is a redemption of space and time; it is making space for the redeemer of all things. Time is a gift from God to be used:
to encounter Him
to show grace to other people
So, thereby, hospitality is (1) redeeming time with people and (2) creating space in which God can be seen, His will can be known, and His love can be felt.
We often struggle to have a caring relationship with this world but, as Christians, are called to love the world and the people God created within this world. We often shy away from hospitality, from creating space in which others can encounter their creator, and we do so for a number of reasons:
We don’t want people to “see our mess.”
We don’t want it to seem like we’re treating someone as a “charity case.”
Often, we are fearful.
Or, we’re just indifferent.
Christ’s example, the example of the Early Church, and our call to love the world, help us overcome these excuses and fears.
Jesus woke early to pray and went out of his way to talk to a Samaritan woman; he would not be so busy that he missed the calling of his life.
Hospitality changes the dynamics of power. It says: “I am not the person who has or knows - I am in just as much need of Christ’s grace as you are. Let’s talk as equals!” The gospel story says this stranger has something very important to say to me, to teach me, I need to listen and learn from them.
We are afraid of the people that we do not know (xenophobia). But the bible calls us to the exact opposite- to philoxenio - to have love for the stranger. The cure for fear is love; it is hospitality.
Christ’s work on the cross reconciled what people thought could never be reconciled - Jews & Gentiles. Early Christians overcame fear of Jews, of Gentiles, of Nationalisms, with Agape love.
To love our neighbors is our gospel witness. Jesus came into the world filled with grace and truth, two things our world needs. Indifference is not love; it is not the Christian vocation.
We accept God or turn him away in the measure that we accept or turn away our needy neighbors and the stranger! God is living inside of us so that, externally, we can be the kind of people that we need to be to show Him to His Creation. And that’s the true test to know if we have really understood who God is and what God has done for us.
This lesson provides many insights on ways we can slow down from being so busy and preoccupied with the things of this world to not only encounter God’s hospitality, but share it with His creation! Please take some time out to listen to this lesson.