After preaching this last Sunday out of Eph. 2 on supernatural community and what it is, I got to thinking more about what it might look like. How it might be practically worked out in the life of the church. And specifically, what can I do to manifest the reality of supernatural community right here in our church.
My mind went back to one Sunday some time ago where my wife and I were planning a hospitality for recent guests to come over for lunch after a the meeting. Besides the usual invites, I usually took the opportunity to invite people who just happened to show up that Sunday. Well, during church I noticed a slightly older woman in our service who had a stroller. She looked somewhat disheveled and acted a bit strangely. I came to realize she had a cat in the stroller and found out she was homeless. I found myself thinking I should invite her over for the hospitality, but I inwardly repelled at the thought. This was not someone who I had anything in common with. Who was decidedly different than I was and besides that she was unkempt, had a peculiar odor, and besides that had a cat in her stroller...very weird. Yet I found myself struck by the fact that If I didn’t reach out to her who would? If we as believers couldn’t care about a woman like this who would? I wish I could say my heartwas in the right place and I reached out joyfully, but alas, I was still concerned about the cost to me. I did reach out. I talked to her after the service and invited her over to the house for lunch, but I have to admit I didn’t do it with much enthusiasm. I was far too aware or our differences to reach out with the kind of compassion I should have. Maybe she sensed that...at any rate she didn’t come and I never saw her again. I realized that I needed a supernatural infusion of God’s Spirit to help me reach out to others who were different from me. In fact I needed to make a point of looking for such people.
As a church, this is what I would like to see happen in us. Not just a willingness, but a genuine desire to reach out to people who are from different ethnic backgrounds, different socio-economic backgrounds, different age groups, different lifestyles, all for the purpose of demonstrating thecompassion of Christ. Both in our daily lives out in the community and on Sunday mornings and in community groups we are looking for opportunities to love and befriend the people God sends our way, and looking for those who do come across our path who are decidedly different from us.
This is what hospitality means; to love a stranger. Face it...in our own ways we are all strange, so let’s get over ourselves and reach out to the stranger, even if we think that stranger is stranger than us.
Here’s to loving the stranger!