response to yesterday’s post on hospitality …

A few weeks ago I shared a link to the story of Benjamin Ries … a gifted young pastor who is also sharing in the Ramadan fast as a Christian guest.
Here’s his response to yesterday’s post on hospitality

Thanks for your blog on hospitality. It’s something I’ve been reflecting on over these last 18 days. (By the way, can you believe we’re over halfway there? I’ve already found myself lamenting the end of this beautiful season.) Anyway, I’ve found that the thing I look forward to most each evening as I drive to share iftar with my Muslim friends is their hospitality. The authentic joy that I am greeted with (along with the genuine disappointment they share when I’ve missed an evening or two) has been surprisingly hopeful and life-giving for me. It has also heightened my awareness to the way the Christian faith has lost the art of hospitality. I’m not sure we value the presence of others outside of the chance they’ll “place membership” and be a long-term “contributing” member. It is no longer enough to welcome the stranger simply because they are fellow human beings – beings whose very presence is a gift from God and not a product to acquire or a commodity to convert. It seems that the Muslim community I gather with is not so concerned with saying the right thing, giving off the right impression, or capitalizing on their one shot to get me coming back (which just happens to be the very things consuming most Christians these days). Rather, they seem to be a people who focus on gratitude, authenticity, and a radical trust that God does not need their gimmicks to fulfill his purpose and mission in the world.
I’ve just been thinking…What if the church’s primary witness to the world was their gratitude, authenticity, and radical trust in the Father? That’s not a ground-breaking question, I know, but my experience with a community of faith who embodies these characteristics has created a deep hunger and thirst for these things in my own community of faith.

I know what Ben’s talking about. In encountering the other – not through the eyes of judgment (Matthew 7:1-5), but as people of peace (Luke 10:5-9 – well worth reading in this context!) – we see ourselves more clearly and gain an opportunity to learn and grow.
By the way, I just heard my friend Samir Selmanovic’s new book is out. The title is It’s Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian. If you’re open to encountering the other in a new way, I’m sure this book will help you. If you’re not open, I hope this book might begin to change that.