Making Strangers into Neighbors -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Eikon
Volume: EIKON 01:1 (Spring 2019)
Article: Making Strangers into Neighbors
Author: Anonymous

Making Strangers into Neighbors

Lauren Rae Konkol

Lauren Rae Konkol serves on the policy staff of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in Washington, DC. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from the University of Central Florida and a Masters of Arts in Theological Studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Centrality Of Hospitality To The Christian Life

The sweet melody of Psalms put to four-part harmonies; table fellowship over simple soup and loaves of communion bread; children’s laughter and muddy feet; and wet shoulders from the tears of grieving neighbors.

This is a glimpse into the intricate yet glorious picture of a Christian home undertaking the call of hospitality—that of welcoming the stranger and seeing the neighbor as family. Biblical hospitality brings to mind one word in particular that encompasses God’s vision and purpose for the human person and all of creation—shalom.

Shalom (שלום), the Hebrew word for peace, casts a vision of wholeness, harmony, and flourishing that marks a people in right relationship to their Creator and to each other. On this side of heaven, hospitality, practiced in all of its forms, helps us more clearly anticipate the coming restoration of all things through Jesus Christ.

The Gospel Comes with a House Key, by Rosaria Butterfield, presents a rich theology of hospitality, calling the Christian to see our homes as gifts to be given as safe havens to the broken, lonely, and spiritually destitute, those in genuine need of authentic fellowship and a sense of belonging.

Butterfield offers the term “Radically Ordinary Hospitality” as a framework for understanding daily service and sacrifice for the good of our neighbor, the glory of God, and the proclamation of his gospel. “Radically ordinary hospitality is this,” Butterfield writes. “[It is] using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God” (31). It is marked by open invitations, the disruption of regular routines, and living below our means in order to use God-given resources to serve others. Hospitality is the call of the Christian life and the Christian home, providing a window into the richness and fullness of life with Christ. It is through open homes, willing hearts, and ready hands that God brings his Kingdom to earth.

Long before the Butterfields began their own hospitality ministry, a pastor and his wife—Ken and Floy Smith—modeled to Rosaria intentional, daily table fellowship,...

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