Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." - Matthew 9:35-38
My good friend and colleague Johnny Jeffords recently wrote on his blog about our Annual Conference’s theme, “Radical Hospitality.” He makes a great statement:
Radical comes from the word from which we get "root." Too many of us think of radical as being whacked out - on the fringe. Radical hospitality is the opposite - it moves us to the essential nature of our being - the foundation of who we are. And for the Christian community, that root can be none other than Jesus of Nazareth.
Dr. Jeffords warns us, though, that it doesn’t need to be practiced as the latest action plan or evangelism program – it needs to be practiced in our daily discipleship. In short – practicing radical hospitality is to practice being the essence of Jesus Christ.
Will it get you into trouble? Most assuredly. There was a reason that Jesus was called a drunkard and glutton: he was seen eating meals with prostitutes and publicans, and probably had a glass of wine or two while he did it. When people disapproved of his messages and ministry, they used these things against him. Since he was unmarried, I am sure some of his critics liked to think (and say) that he was either a womanizer or gay.
So, if we’re radical in both our hospitality and our discipleship, we may need to be prepared and prayed up to face the critics and naysayers. Some will say you’re crazy to welcome “those folks” into your church or Sunday School class. Some outside of our church will see our new parking lot and wonder, “I wonder who died and left them the money to do that?” Radical hospitality and discipleship is liable to get Reidland United Methodist Church labeled as “the crazy church.”
I hear RUMC’s preacher has a beard and rides a motorcycle, too…