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Hospitality, Not Tolerance

Hospitality, Not Tolerance

As contrary as it may sound, our Christian calling is to hospitality, not to tolerance.

Hospitality invites, embraces, informs, nourishes, reconciles.

Hospitality cares and shares, provides and pleads and prays

Hospitality serves and listens, speaks and forgives.

Tolerance may require no more than apathy and indifference.

Tolerance may demand on nothing more than turning a blind eye, diverting attention, being distracted, simply disregarding.

Some told or tempted to tolerate simply feign affirmation.

We are called to hospitality, not tolerance.

Consider Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Hospitality is the framing with a well and water—and with disciples off to the village for food. With a metaphor meant for an eternal thirst-quenching, Jesus speaks of living water. Indeed, salvation, redemption, forgiveness, the grant of God's Spirit—all of these bespeak hospitality.

Jesus does not disregard her with toleration, nor does he demean her with lavish condemnation. Rather, he convicts her with a divine acknowledgement of her sins and follows up with an invitation to drink, even to worship God in Spirit and in truth.

Yes, those who worship God must worship him in truth, even the truth of who God is, of his redemptive grace in Christ, of the forgiveness of our sins. But the truth of those sins must neither be disregarded nor dismissed with the folly that is tolerance lest the well-being of others be disregarded by such a cultural diversion and distraction.

We are called to hospitality, not tolerance.

God is hospitable. From the opening chapters of Genesis we read that God supplies lavish provisions and called our first parents to "eat eat" (the emphatic Hebrew that we translate weakly as a permissive "may eat").

This is a God who subsequently instates a rhythm of festivals, One who eats with his people the sacrifices they offer, One who directs a grand choreography of hospitable grace.

This is the God who multiplies loaves and fishes, who feeds thousands with food but also with his words. Food and word. We cannot live by bread alone.

This is the God we meet in the Lord's Supper as we eat and remember and proclaim his coming grace.

That grace, that hospitable grace, is exhibited lavishly again in the wedding supper of the Lamb, as also in the tree of life offering fruit for the healing of the nations.

Hospitality and healing, not heresy of ethical relativity, a disregard of God’s word and will.

Hospitality and helping, not personal hating or social hostility, also a disregard of God’s word and will.

We are called to hospitality, not tolerance.

(Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash)

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