By Kim Engelmann
Welcoming The Stranger: Living Out God’s Soul Stretching Love
In this article Jan discusses the importance of welcoming the stranger, and in so doing creating a “home” for them. Jesus himself identified with the stranger in his statement “when I was a stranger you welcomed me”. This is a poignant reminder that when we welcome strangers we are welcoming Jesus himself. This welcoming posture is not just a warm feeling, but actually is something we must learn to do and ought to have practical results in terms of meeting the needs of those we welcome. Even in the Old Testament welcoming the stranger was a command; often it was the Israelites themselves who were strangers and sojourners and who needed to be welcomed. In the parable of the Good Samaritan it is clear that the stranger (the unclean sinner from the Jewish perspective) is the one who shows hospitality to the wounded traveler. Not the priest, or the Levite, but the stranger who himself has been ostracized, has learned empathy for others who are left by the side of the road. Jan challenges the reader to reach out to all people (as God has reached out to the entire world) even those who don’t belong to our “own group”. This welcoming reach must extend to outcasts (those unacceptable in normal society like sex offenders), wrong-doers, people outside their own territory (political refugees), or anyone who is different from us politically, ethnically or theologically. Anyone we are tempted to exclude or ignore (even the elderly) we must be watchful to welcome as Jesus himself. Empathy is key, as is practicing the presence of God, to overcome our own shyness and think not only about our own interests, but also the interest of others. As we practice this, and invite God into our interactions with others, things begin to flow more easily and we become unselfconscious and more centered on others.Read More Post a comment (0)
In A World of Pain… What Good Is God?
An Interview with Philip Yancey
This is an interview with Yancey that grapples with theodicy issues as they are dealt with in his new book, What Good Is God? Yancey was in a recent car accident where he almost died and as he recovered three questions presented themselves as follows: 1) Who do I love? 2) What have I done with my life? and 3) Am I ready for whatever is next? These questions have been pivotal since the accident; Yancey surmises that pain is like a hearing aid that helps us tune into what truly matters. In fact, research shows that painful times are the times that foster spiritual formation the most. Psychological or spiritual pain helps us “tune in” to something that needs changing—as does physical pain. The pain is not just there to make us feel bad. When we experience pain we should seek counsel about it so that we can become redirected.
Part of the process of working through our pain is praying through pain. This is a process in which we should not hold back. Honesty and raw emotion are necessary as is shown in scripture (Job, Lamentations, Psalms, Jesus weeping, etc). There is also a deep need for community during difficult times. Yancey suggests a sign for all painful experiences: DANGER! Do not experience alone! Studies have shown that those in community with one another during difficult times heal faster than those in isolation.Read More Post a comment (1)