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Peter Hubbard


July 29, 2018


Hebrews, Hebrews 13:2


So, God has been teaching us to listen to his Spirit and to one another, to lament when appropriate, and to love. And today even though the series ended last week we’re going to continue to work out, because we didn’t get to this last week, we are going to continue to work out what does it really mean to love? And we’re going to focus in on just one specific way we can do this as Christians in a post Christian culture, and why this way is so significant. It’s somewhat related to the racism series but it’s broader than that. It applies to that, but we’re going to apply it much more generally.

Before we get to that specifically, I want to set the stage for that by wrestling with the question how do Christians relate to the culture that they live in? Three different possible postures.

First of all, we fight, meaning not necessarily militarily but we confront. We are confronting the culture that we live in. That’s posture number 1.

Posture number two is we might flee, withdraw. We are withdrawing from the culture because we are a people called to God himself.

Number 3 we fit in. We immerse in the culture.

So, question, which of these three is biblical? Yeah, and you’ll hear whole sermons devoted to one or the other which is legit. You’ll also hear Christians who are really passionate about one or the other, emphasizing that as if that’s the only posture. We’re supposed to be immersed in the culture. Salt can’t have its transforming effect if it’s not among. But then the Bible comes at this from a little more sophisticated way. And let me just illustrate. It kind of depends on which passage you look at, right?

2 Corinthians 10:4 describes us as destroying strongholds, taking every thought captive which has the idea of confronting thought patterns philosophies, ways of viewing the world, very confrontational. But then if you look at 2 Corinthians 6:17 it says “Go out from the midst and be separate from them.” And that sounds not so much like you’re engaging culture combatively or confrontingly, you’re engaging culture more protectively or separately. You’re holy unto God, separate in that sense.

Or someone may say, well wait a second look at Jesus in Luke 15:2, he ate with sinners. So, we we’re supposed to fit in, immerse ourselves in culture. You can’t share the gospel with someone you are not near. Soon you see depending on the passage you look at, that’s why this is so foundational for what we’re about to look at, and that is this.

The Christian’s relationship with culture is multifaceted. Multifaceted. Now do not misunderstand what I’m saying. I’m not talking about pluralism or moral relativism. I’m not talking about changing what you believe depending on who you’re with. That’s not it at all. I’m talking about a versatility or flexibility of approach depending on the situation. Or even more like Bear Grylls, maintaining three points of contact when you go climbing. And as a Christian we are in one sense relating to the culture at least three different ways –sometimes simultaneously. And you see this in the in the biblical material. For example, Paul, in Acts 16, is accused of disturbing the city because he confronted a way of treating people and a way of doing finances that disturbed the city.

So, in one sense you see a lot of confrontation. And the gospel is confrontive. It will transform a culture. But then at other times you see in Galatians 1 when Paul was first beginning following Jesus, you see he actually withdrew to Arabia for years, and God was discipling, feeding him, teaching him, training him. He was listening to the wisdom of the Spirit. Or in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul talked about being all things to all people that he might win some. He used his Roman citizenship to gain transport to Rome.

So, do you see how depending on the situation we’re not talking about compromising the gospel or changing what you believe, but we are talking about a multifaceted relationship with culture where it takes real wisdom to note which to do at what time. And this tension of what it means to be, when you’re in Jesus you are in the world but not of it. Yeah that’s that tension you’re feeling, and it’s not a new one.

In 2nd century the Epistle of Mathetes which just simply means disciple to Diognetus who is most likely a gentile skeptic, explained how Christians were not distinguished by country, language, or customs. But he wrote this,

“Inhabiting Greek as well as Barbarian cities according as the lot of each of them has determined, in following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct.”

Stop there for second. You notice that? You’re not going to be able to find a Christian uniform that’s going to tell you, aha, that’s a Christian. Or universally a Christian language or some superficial, external indication. That’s what he’s saying. In one sense, they kind of fit in with all the cultures of the world, but yet they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. So right after saying they kind of fit in, they kind of don’t. There are things about them that will stand out. He goes on,

“They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others.” [So, they really belong to the nation God calls them to belong to,] and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry as do all others. They beget children, but they do not destroy their offspring.”

So, this is from way back in the second century. They live in some ways just like everyone else, but there are lines. They will not practice, in this case, infanticide or abortion. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven.

Do you feel the tension there? Multifaceted approach that statement. They have a common table but not a common bed communicates so powerfully. In other words, in one sense Christians are open to the world. My table is your table. I’ll share everything with you. But in another sense, they are totally closed.

We will not live in immorality. We will not simply embrace the sexual practices of our culture just because it’s trendy right now. We will not follow the moral mandates of our culture.

Do you feel the tension? That’s vital. Therefore, true Christian, and we’re just talking today about Christian hospitality, is in some ways sometimes simultaneously confronting the culture, the gospel of the kingdom confronting the isolation, the division, the selfishness, the greed the immorality of false teaching, confronting the culture and yet at the same time withdrawing from the culture. Inviting people into our homes is as if inviting them into the embassy of our country, our foreign land. We’ll explain that in a minute. And at the same time, it’s plunging into culture. If done well, Christian hospitality provides a bridge between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness.

Now let’s look at this from Hebrews 13. It’s going to kind of launch this discussion. Hebrews 13. What’s the theme of Hebrews? Keep at it. He’s worth it. The preeminence of Christ fuels the perseverance of Christians. We keep at it because he’s worth it. Because he is preeminent, we persevere. After demonstrating throughout the book that Jesus is better than angels, better than Moses, better than priests. He offers a better sacrifice, establishes a better covenant. The argument of Hebrews culminates in chapter 12. Look at verse 28,

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

We are citizens of an unshakable kingdom that is transcendent over all other micro kingdoms because God is an all-consuming fire. And then the author applies this to all of us. Verse 1, chapter 13,

“Let brotherly love continue”

This is such a radical shift. God is a consuming fire. We are citizens of an unshakable kingdom. You would think it would say, therefore go out and slaughter everybody who is in a different kingdom. No. “Let brotherly love continue.” That’s the word philadelphia. “Let brotherly love continue.” We keep loving because he keeps reigning.

It’s really easy to start to love but when people don’t respond the way we think they should or they disappoint us we become bitter, brittle. Many start loving. What he’s talking about here is keep at it. He’s worth it. Continue to love. Verse 2.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”

Do you notice the tension is right here in the passage? We have a common table, verse 2, hospitality. Verse 4. Don’t have a common bed. Verse 5,

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So, we can confidently say ‘The Lord is my helper: I will not fear: what can man do to me?’”

In light of who he is. There’s a ton there. We’re going to focus in on verse 2. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” What does that mean? That sounds like something new. Aren’t there are always new angel TV shows coming out? So, what is he talking about when he’s talking about entertaining angels? Literally hosting angels.

Remember Genesis 18? Abraham and Sarah had three men visit. It’s quite apparent that these were, this was an angelic visit. Whatever inconvenience these angels were to Abraham and Sarah’s schedule was offset by the blessing that they brought. They announced to Sarah that she would have a son within a year, and the Lord said, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?”

So, the implication here is when you practice this kind of Christian hospitality, it will mess with your budget and your schedule, but there are blessings that come. So, it could be talking about literally hosting angels. Or second option is hosting messengers. In that day. The word angel can loosely be translated messenger, which is kind of what it means. So, in that day hotels were physically and morally dirty, and if they weren’t physically and morally dirty, they were very, very expensive.

So, Hebrews may be referring to receiving into our homes traveling pastors, missionaries, refugees fleeing persecution, needy neighbors. Either way whatever way he’s specifically referring to, the point is really clear. Here it is. By extending love to strangers, you are opening your door to divinely appointed, unexpected blessings. As Jesus said in Matthew 25,

“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.’”

So, let’s talk about Christian hospitality. What are the ingredients of this kind of hospitality that he’s referring to? And for all our young kids in here, let me encourage you to draw what you hear us talk about. When we talk about Christian hospitality we can imagine things popping in your mind about having people into your home. And I’d love to see your drawings after the service. That would be so cool. So, five ingredients of Christian hospitality.

Number 1, Christian hospitality reflects the gospel. Ephesians 2 we read earlier, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one,” Jew, Gentile, all has been broken down in his flesh. The dividing wall of hostility. “For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So, then you are no longer” sent off – that is strangers. Did we talk about the meaning of the word? I think I missed that.

That word for hospitality back in Hebrews 13 is, you know right above it is philadelphia, brotherly love. That word in verse 2 is philoxenia, which is love. And what is xenia? Think xenophobia, strangers. So, this word Hebrews 13:2 is love of strangers. Well the word we just read in Ephesians is that word, you are no longer xenia, strangers. So, you who were strangers, afar off from the promises of God, which would refer to all Gentiles.

So, then you you’re no longer xenia, strangers and aliens, but now you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. And that were fellow citizens, one word in the Greek, polites, we get our word political from that second part. So, you’re political together, but it doesn’t mean what we think of that, and fellow citizens. So as Christians, when we invite people into our home, we are picturing the fact that Christians are fellow citizens and family of God.

So, we’re brothers and sisters who create these embassies within a foreign land. We’re inviting people into that. When Rosaria Butterfield was a tenured professor of English and Women’s Studies at Syracuse University, she was living in a lesbian relationship, had very strong views against Christians. She hated them. And she was she was terrified of them. I’m going to show you a video in a second here, but I don’t think she mentions this. But the first time she pulled up in front of a Christian’s house, a couple who had invited her for dinner, she sat in her car, she was scared to death to go in. That’s something many of us don’t think of when we think of people who might hate us, also might be scared of us. But she thought all Christians were racist, sexist, homophobic. And in her new book The Gospel Comes with a House Key, she describes both the life she was living in and then the life she was drawn into. Let’s watch this.

“We live at this time where so many Christian ideas are understood as hate speech after the Obergefell decision legalized gay marriage, that put the gospel on a collision course with the new law of the land. And I think many Christians have been struggling with how do I speak? What do I do? How do I move forward?

Home is a vital place to invite your neighbors to have some heartfelt conversations. We can love our children together. We can let some things slide, even though the world we live in would say that we’re supposed to be enemies. To me, hospitality is the ground zero of the Christian faith.

I was raised in an Italian family. There were some issues in my house that made it almost impossible to have people in, so hospitality didn’t really become endemic to my life until I had set up a home of my own. I was a professor at Syracuse. I lived as an out lesbian feminist in New York in our LGBTQ community.

Somebody’s home was open every night of the week, and there was never a question where will I go if I need help? Because the community itself is organic, fluid and that was how we dealt with crises. After I wrote my tenure book, I really wanted to write a book that was on my heart. Why is the religious right such a hateful community? And why do they hate people like me?

I was on a war against two things, patriarchy and stupid. So, I was really curious to know why relatively decent people would use the Bible in such a hateful way. So, I wrote an editorial and it brought all kinds of attention my way which I didn’t really expect. But one of the things it brought my way was a letter from Ken Smith, the pastor of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church.

When Ken and his wife Floy invited me to dinner, I was happy. I thought of Ken as my unpaid research assistant. And they were fine with the fact that I wanted to read the Bible to critique it. That began a research journey that changed my life. But it wasn’t research that changed my life. In Ken and Floy’s home, the way that they practiced hospitality became a living, breathing example of the theology that they were teaching.

After my first dinner at Ken and Floy’s house, Ken gave me a big hug, Floy gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. We said we’ll catch up next week. This was fun. Can’t wait to do it again. They did not share the gospel with me, and they did not invite me to church. And that was so wonderful. Because what it showed to me was that they didn’t see me as a project. They actually saw me as a neighbor.

And I didn’t step foot in the church for two years, but every week I was in their home, and every week it was clear that pretty much anything could go. We could ask anything. Ken and Floy were fine. And that process of dialogue and table fellowship was compelling. It was deeply compelling.

I did not come to faith because I stopped feeling like a lesbian. It’s not that I got all of my worldview issues just completely cemented with a happy Christian evangelism. Not at all. I came to faith because I became convicted that Jesus is who he says he is. Ephesians 4:29 is our watch word, that we are to impart grace to the hearer. I might not agree with everything that you hold to be near and dear. But because we are neighbors,

I don’t have to say everything that’s on my heart, and you don’t have to say everything that’s on your heart right now. We can put some of our worldview issues aside. And over years of this the gospel takes on a momentum that is compelling to people. I think we need to give each other the reminder that it’s God who saves. It’s not about certainly us being perfect or our words be perfect but show up we must in the lives of unbelievers.

What comes naturally to me, and what comes naturally to you is to hang out with people who are like us, people who can maybe finish our sentences, people who don’t scare us. But hospitality biblically speaking takes strangers and makes them neighbors and takes neighbors makes them the family of God. It’s a great joy to see the gospel bring people together who are supposed to be enemies, and it’s a great joy to know that God never gets the address wrong. And if your neighbors aren’t people you know yet, there’s a blessing waiting for you.

So, did you get what she said near the end there? Christian hospitality takes strangers and makes them neighbors and neighbors, makes them family of God. So, number 1, Christian hospitality reflects the gospel.

Secondly Christian hospitality respects everyone. In the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10, Jesus interacted with a lawyer who was trying to narrow the scope of neighbor. The lawyer asked, who is my neighbor? And Jesus told the story and then changed the question. Who was a neighbor? Who proved to be a neighbor to this man? So, Jesus widened the pool to include everyone and to move the conversation from picking neighbors to being neighbors.

That’s what the gospel does. The gospel moves the conversation, really the gospel moves are our lifestyle from picking neighbors – I like her, she’s like, or I like him, or he makes me laugh. You know we love the same team – to picking neighbors, to be being neighbors. So, do you appreciate your neighbors for the goodness that your neighbors are and have? As Christians that can feel a little weird because okay, there’s no good person. Romans says before God there is none good, no not one. There’s no one who could be nice enough to earn their way to a right relationship with God. That’s clear. But there is a relative goodness –  theologians call it common grace – that God distributes his kindness.

As Jesus said, My Father, he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. He sends rain to the just and the unjust. God is distributing his kindness generously, even to people who hate him, curse him and don’t even acknowledge him. He is that generous every day. Can you see that generosity in your neighbors? Some of your neighbors are nicer than a lot of Christians. It’s painful.

Many of your neighbors are smarter than all of us put together. They’re gifted with a lot of brain cells. God distributed his kindness in large brain capacity to some of your neighbors. Some of them are very generous, very creative.

All of these things we can look at and see as gifts coming from God whether our neighbor acknowledges that or not, which makes conversation so exciting. Because even in our hearts as we’re learning more about our neighbor, we’re taking that all the way back to its rightful source even if they don’t. And that’s okay. We’re praying they will.

I love the wit of my agnostic neighbor who goes after the fact that I’m a Christian. But I can laugh at his wit and love him as an image-bearer while still praying he will come to Christ. Even last week they were over for dinner, and he was telling us many stories where he almost died, and I just looked at him and said you know why you’re still alive? It launched us into a little discussion. I love his wit.

I love my Buddhist neighbor’s conscientiousness. She is so careful, so diligent, so conscientious. I can delight in expressions of our Creator in all my neighbors, whether they acknowledge the source or not. And that allows us to respect everyone. This is true also for Christians who are different from one another. So, I meet with a group of pastors. Matt – one of our church planters out in Spartanburg – helps lead a group made up of about half Black pastors, half white pastors. And we have some hilarious conversations.

So, a few months ago we’re eating breakfast, and one of the white pastors says is this salted pork, and the Black pastors cracked up. That’s this salted pork, that’s fatback. And if I had an hour I could tell you about the stories that ensued, and it was a deep dive into culture, a culinary history going all the way back to slavery and many other discussions including chitlins and many other things, like why some people eat certain things and some people don’t eat other things.

And listen brothers and sisters, if we never break bread with anyone who is not exactly like us, we miss just beautiful expressions of God’s creativity, kindness. And at times we are lamenting together but loving one another. And that takes time to build the kind of trusting relationships where you can actually make fun of each other’s food and laugh together and love one another.

Fake hospitality won’t do that. What is fake hospitality? Our culture is teeming with fake hospitality. Social media, chat rooms. And I’m not knocking those. They have their place. They’re amazing. Social media can be really helpful. But don’t confuse that with true Christian hospitality. It’s not the same.

There are many toxic forms of hospitality with the whole false intimacy pornography, parties that have to be lubricated with lots of alcohol and drugs and everything because people can’t really love and enjoy one another without some kind of toxic assistance. Because where you’ll notice this, where Christian hospitality is rare, fake hospitality is rife. They rise and fall together. And our culture desperately needs to see and experience the real thing. The real thing. Christian hospitality respects everyone.

Number 3, Christian hospitality renounces fear. Many believe that hospitality is primarily for rich supermoms and extroverts because they’re the only ones who can have it all together and have enough money to put a perfect spread out, and extroverts are the only ones that have the energy at the end of the day to do that. Rosaria helps us with that. She says her Myers Briggs is INTJ if that means anything to you. Listen to what she goes on to say.

“I am a classic introvert. This means that I draw an inner charge and refueling from being alone. I know how to engage people but being with people is draining.” You guys are draining me right now. “Therefore, I get up earlier than everyone else in my house because I need my alone time. I putter in the kitchen, I read my Bible, I write my books, I fold my laundry….

We introverts miss out on great blessings when we excuse ourselves from practicing hospitality because it exhausts us. I often find people exhausting. But over the years I have learned how to pace myself,” [this is really wise,] “How to prepare for the private time necessary to recharge, and how to grow in discomfort,” grow in the midst of this uncomfortable situation.

Knowing your personality and your sensitivities does not excuse you from ministry. It means that you need to prepare for it differently than others might.” That’s big. Couples usually have different ways of recharging their social batteries. It’s really important to talk about that and to respect one another’s various approaches to recharging those batteries, to be sensitive to the person with the smaller sized social battery.

Singles need to know the size of your social battery. What charges it, what drains it, and to be intentional. She goes on,

“Too many of us are sidelined by fears. We fear that people will hurt us. We fear that people will negatively influence our children. We fear that we do not even understand the language of this new world order, least of all its people. We long for days gone by. Our sentimentality makes us stupid.”

Now she’s not just slamming us there. She’s making a really big point. If you’re lost in the past you’re missing what God is doing in the present. Right? And that’s what she means by stupid. You’re blind to who God is and what he’s doing in the present.

“We need to snap ourselves out of this self-pitying reverie. The best days are ahead. Jesus advances from the front of the line.”

And I think one of the biggest fears is – she just made a passing reference to it – we fear not having all the answers. So, we’ve got to be prepared for everything before we could actually host someone who might reject everything I believe. And that’s huge pressure and it’s very unhelpful. She goes on,

“Let’s face it. We have become unwelcome guests in this post-Christian world. Our children ride their scooters in neighborhoods where conservative Christianity is dismissed or denounced as irrelevant, irrational, discriminatory and dangerous. Many of us go to work in places where sensitivity training has become an Orwellian nightmare; where sexual orientation is now considered a true category of personhood (who you really are).”

Now understand, she lived a lesbian lifestyle. She gets the fact that you can experience attractions. What she’s rejecting is that those are definitional. She says that’s not who you are.

“Where biological sex is no longer considered a factual reality,” [that’s in our culture,]” offering God’s designed blessing for all humanity but only a psychological reality (its meaning subject to how you feel). Christian common sense is now declared ‘hate speech’ by the new keepers of this culture. The old rules don’t apply anymore. Many Christians genuinely do not know what to say to their unbelieving neighbors. The language and the logic have changed almost overnight. The invitation to bring people who despise you into your home may sound like a horrific prospect.”

Unless you’re a follower of Jesus, right? What did Jesus do with people who despised him? Where would we be if Jesus was not a neighbor to strangers? Jesus moves toward us, loves us even when we reject him, curse his name. He gives himself for us with the kind of love that our world knows nothing of.

So that means we have to be willing to humble ourselves and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and be willing to embrace the awkwardness when someone asks the question. Has that ever happened to you? You know you’re doing Christian hospitality when somebody throws out a question at the table where everything all of a sudden goes silent. This wasn’t at the table, but in our living room when my neighbor said, “So why would God send somebody to hell who just rejects Jesus? Why would he do that?” It’s a good question.

Good question. Or like last year a friend of mine, they were living with us, and he’s pretty antagonistic against evangelicals. And we’re eating dinner and he just says, “So why do you people send missionaries to other countries?” As he went on to explain, why do you hate them? So, tell me where that question came from. And the more he explained, and that led into a huge discussion as to the actual motivation of why Christians go and sharing of the gospel. His heart has softened so much. Or on a more superficial level, when we had a German exchange student a couple of years ago at our table. And she said, “So why are you Americans so infatuated with guns?”

We said, “We’re not infatuated with guns.”

And then we look over and at the end of the table was another person visiting from here who had a T-shirt on with two guns that said, “an armed citizen is a slave” or something like that. We’re not infatuated with guns. And then we said – I mean we had the kind of relationship with her that we could say this – “I said you know well we have to have guns because you Germans keep starting wars we have to finish.

So where would we be without them?” But if you’re not okay with what can be an awkward moment, and there are times where they lead into very serious discussions and there are times where you have to release the pressure and enjoy one another and be okay with differences. That was a funny story because soon after that she said, “Can we go to the gun range?” No. We are people of peace.

So, number 4, Christian hospitality rejects materialism. And I’m using the word materialism very broadly here. I’m talking about a show window evangelism where we think we have to present the three Cs perfectly – our children, our carpet, and our casseroles.

I can’t really do hospitality until all my kids are model kids, or else people reject the gospel. Or my carpet has to be perfectly clean, and my house just needs to be… it’s too small, it’s too ugly, my furniture doesn’t match, they’re going to reject Jesus if they see unmatched furniture. And the last one is the cooking. I’m not a master chef, so I can’t do the hospitality thing. Or I work, and you know, it’s crockpot and… but do you see how that gets right at the source of our motivation? Are we willing to love our neighbors or are we trying to impress them? Because some of us our houses are too nice, so we can’t let people in because they may break something.

So, it gets right at the core of our selfishness. I can’t have people over, we have that show we watch every night. If I missed one, what would happen? And then finally Christian hospitality refuses to compromise.

There are things that we don’t talk about, things we’re not going to argue over. We’re not going to get lost in politics at the beginning of this relationship or maybe ever. But the key is we’re going to be who we are in Jesus. That’s it. When people come into our home, we do what we do. We’re going to pray or later we’re going to jump in the Word and this is what we do, and we’re weird, and it’s okay.

I think this is really important because some Christians think if I’m going to be hospitable, I have to become something I’m not. No, it’s okay to be who you are in Jesus and love them where they are. Rosaria writes

“Radically ordinary hospitality characterizes those who don’t fuss over different worldviews represented at the dinner table. The truly hospitable aren’t embarrassed to keep friendships with people who are different. They don’t buy the world’s bunk about this.”

Do you understand? This is the bunk of today. If you’re not in somebody’s political party, our culture is telling us everyone is divided by identity politics. And it is so divisive. We may talk about that next week. They know that there is a difference between acceptance and approval, and they courageously accept and respect people who think differently from them.

Do we understand our culture rejects that dichotomy between acceptance and approval? But as Christians we know it’s true. You can accept someone even if you don’t approve of everything they do. You do it with your kids all the time and with yourself. “They don’t worry that others will misinterpret their friendship.

Jesus dined with sinners, but he didn’t sin with sinners. Jesus lived in the world, but he didn’t live like the world. This is the Jesus paradox, and it defines those who are willing to suffer with others for the sake of gospel sharing and gospel living, those who care more for integrity than appearances.”

That’s huge.

That just gets our appetite going on hospitality. And let me just emphasize that every one of you are going to live this out in the season of your life right now differently, and that’s okay. Don’t try to be someone else. Just say, Lord how can I be a neighbor? And to pray for us I’m going to ask my brother Jefferson to lead us in prayer, to pray over our church. My little brother.

Pray for us please.

We thank you, Father for today. May we leave you with your Spirit. May it guide us. May it show us opportunities that we may not see, that you are opening windows and doors that we can step through, to be a neighbor, to be a friend, to be hospitable and may not a weight be upon us. May we give it to you, so you may work through our life to them.

So, Father as my brothers and sisters leave here today, may they be blessed to go back home, to go to work tomorrow, seeking to find ways to reach out to someone who they don’t understand. Give them strength and patience to deal with anything they may not understand or follow. Your grace is sufficient. You are here with us, so will be with us always. Teach us your ways to reach out to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.