Monday, January 19, 2009

Hospitality (Mat. 10)

Gary North once wrote that rich people tend to be as heavily in debt as poor people. They live in bigger houses, with bigger mortgages. They drive fancier cars that take longer to finance. The expense of "keeping up appearances" may leave little true discretionary income.

So, what's the difference? Well, a rich guy has a lot farther to fall if he suffers financial setbacks. On his way down, he usually leaves his friends behind. By contrast, true generosity is often found among the poor. People who live close to the edge are, perhaps, more likely to extend a helping hand to others who topple over the edge. After all, they might need a hand themselves another day.

Cultures held in disdain by elites often have a ethic of hospitality. R. J. Rushdoony, a Presbyterian scholar who served for a decade as a missionary to western Native American tribes, wrote of how a man could journey among these tribal people for weeks. Food and lodging graciously offered, no questions asked. A Turkish friend explained a custom among the rural people in his nation. You could knock on a total stranger's door, tell him that "Allah wishes to be your guest today," and get a meal and a place to sleep. No questions asked, no pay requested.

When Jesus sent out his twelve disciples to preach throughout Israel, they relied upon this same ethos of hospitality:
Onun evine gireken, evdekilere esenlik dileyin. Eğer o evdekiler buna layıksa, dilediğiniz esenlik üzerinde kalsın ...
Now, a few words for the day:
  • layıksa-- worthy
  • esenlik -- peace
  • dilek -- wish, desire, requrest (noun)
  • dilemek -- wish, desire, requrest (verb)
  • dilek dilemek -- to make a wish
One of the most successful communes in America manufactures recreational vehicles. They've been in business for decades, now. One of their ambitions is to provide safe and affordable housing for traveling evangelists. The bringer of the message can pull into the marketplace, step out of his air-conditioned bubble of portable America, bequeath enlightenment to the benighted heathen, then ride off into the sunset.

Do you all see the problem with this?

Jesus charged His disciples to tap into pre-existing networks of credibility. When you show up to announce the King's reign, offer free samples of the Kingdom's wealth. Heal a few sick people. Cleanse lepers. Raise the dead. Announce that the King reigns, and has wonderful things in mind for His loyal subjects. Then, make inquiries to find a "man of peace," a worthy host. Pronounce a blessing upon his household. Stay with that family for the duration of your time in the city. Mesh with real life.

When we preach the gospel, we invite people into eternal fellowship with the Eternal God. A message transmitted over natural channels sounds more convincing, I suspect, then one that drops down from out of nowhere, without any context.

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