Sunday, May 29, 2016

Holiness or Hospitality?

On Sunday, I started a series on Galatians.  While the lectionary covers most of the letter over the next few weeks, I have decided to deviate slightly from this path and take on a chapter each week.  Chapter one really allowed us to look at the overarching issue of grace and the essentials of salvation.

Technology brings joy and information to us
but also certainly has changed the way
we relate to each other.  Has it intruded
on our hospitality for one another?
As we get into chapter two, it becomes clear that the old arguments of holiness versus hospitality were springing forth in the early church. Those residing within the holiness faction wanted to be very clear on what God allowed from God's people. Because dietary restrictions were not observed by Gentiles, some Mosaic Law-abiding Christians refused table fellowship with them at meals.

Paul notes in the letter that Peter seemed to waffle on this.  This shouldn't surprise those who know of Peter's character from the Gospels.  He often means well.  In fact, it is Peter's wavering that help us to realize that doing the right thing is often difficult when those around us are encouraging us to go back to what is "normal".  When we attempt large changes in systems, the system will rise up in defiance!

If Paul had not been adamant in his table fellowship with Gentiles, it is likely that I would not be writing this blog piece or that you would be reading it!  Hospitality with those outside the mainstream also seems to be a an emphasis of the ministry of Jesus.  In fact, his engagement with those outside the Law is often confusing to his own disciples. This seeming confusion allows some scholars to ponder how much influence Paul's movement had over the recollection of the stories of the disciples as the Gospels were written down roughly a generation after Paul's letters.

How is hospitality related to grace?  Paul definitely ties the two together.

As we take on the character of Jesus Christ as his followers, we are to exhibit grace in ways that surprise those outside the church today.  This is important for us in many ways as we seek to be the church to a society that seems unwilling to hear from the institution but might be open to listening to Jesus.

In Christ,


Picture by Paul Townsend via Creative Commons license. 

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