Be hospitable by faith, not by sight

June 4, 2014 | Viewpoints
Phil Wagler |

Jesus told his disciples to make disciples. He was very clear. He promised his Spirit would enable us and would do the work of convicting and opening hearts and minds. Our part is quite simple.

How well do you know your neighbours?

Do you know the names of their kids or grandkids? What about their pets? Do you know what their favourite team is?

Are they vegetarians? Recent immigrants, perhaps? Are they divorced? Are they finding it hard to make ends meet? Do they fight? Have they survived cancer?

What do they think about religion? Do they believe in God? Do they know you follow Jesus? Do they even know his name?

What are their political views? Would they vote for Trudeau, Harper or Mulcair? What do they do for a living? Do they have a claim to fame?

Have you ever done an act of kindness for them? Have you trusted any of them with the keys to your house? Have you been trusted by them that way?

So many questions, I know. It’s just that, well, we can be like birds of a feather flocking together with people just like us. It can be scary to take these people risks. Where do you even begin?

Have you ever thought of how your neighbour feels about getting to know you?

Someone has to bridge the gap. We know God bridged the gap when he sent his Son, and as the Father sent him, so he sends us. It may simply be across the road, but he sends us.

Reflecting on Jesus’ Great Commission charge, Oswald Chambers says, “ ‘Therefore go.’ . . . Go simply means live.”

Live. Just live. Live out the work of Christ in you in the sphere of your influence. Just live, love and look like Jesus. Just live with a holy curiosity—not nosiness. Just live to seek the good of the other. Just live by carrying your cross.

Here’s a three-dimensional challenge for us as we head towards summer:

• First, if you don’t know a neighbour, take even a small step in that direction. Ask a question. Even—egad—talk in the elevator. If you can’t already do it, make it your goal to know between five and 10 neighbours by name by the end of August.

• Second, practise hospitality and open your home. Watch a game. Have tea. Talk inside your front door. Let them see the real you. Let them see your chipped plates and what hangs on your walls. Let them hear you correct your kids. And be open to go their way too, and eat or drink what they set in front of you. Pray that this step of reciprocal neighbourliness occurs and watch how the Spirit is at work. Be hospitable by faith, not by sight.

• Third, don’t hide Jesus. This gives many of us the heebie-jeebies because we think that means downloading some awkward presentation or critiquing faults. This is not what Jesus meant when he said we’d be his witnesses. It’s really less about him, not you. Remember, “go” means live, and Jesus said that we make disciples by teaching people to obey all that he has commanded us. In other words, live out your growing Christ-likeness and don’t be ashamed to give him the credit he deserves.

Phil Wagler lives in a neighbourhood where people are busy and rarely talk about God positively. This is where he must simply go and live.

--Posted June 4, 2014

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