Monday, August 07, 2017

The Missing Key to the Refugee Crisis: Christian Hospitality towards Muslims (Part Two)

A biblical view of hospitality can offer a corrective to the current view of refugees.

The Early Church: Embracing Marginalized Enemies
Acts 8:4-25 gives a vastly different account of the Samaritans; Phillip proclaimed the gospel to the Samaritans and many came to faith. As a result, the Jerusalem Church sent Peter and John as representatives to investigate. They sent the same John who earlier wanted to call fire down from heaven on a Samaritan community for their inhospitable behavior towards Jesus (Luke 9:52–55). Yet John probably felt a different attitude as he set out for Samaria with Peter (Bruce 1988, Kindle Electronic Edition: Location 6306-6307).

When Peter and John arrived, they witnessed the work of the Spirit of God among the Samaritans. Instead of calling judgment upon them, they extended their hands and prayed for them. As a result, the Samaritans experience an outpouring of the Spirit: “Suddenly the Spirit of God is poured out and their lives too and they will never be the same” (Barrett 1994, 412).

Convinced of God’s work among these Samaritans, Luke pointed out the impact of their change. While Peter and John were on their return journey to Jerusalem, they were “preaching the gospel in many other Samaritan villages” (Acts 8:25). This time, they were not asking for judgment by fire on more Samaritan villages (Luke 9:51–55).

The Spirit of Jesus changed John and Peter’s hearts. Other Samaritan villages welcomed them and they bore witness to what Christ had done as they were hosted by these Samaritans. We don’t know how many different Samaritan places they likely stayed during this ministry outreach, but Jesus’ message of “loving your enemies” (Matt. 5:44) certainly came through.

These critical engagements by Jesus and his apostles with the marginalized Samaritans do not just demonstrate a casual meeting; rather, “Jesus’ movement aims at nothing less than the transformation of human society” (Koenig 1985, 29). There is a bigger picture of Luke-Acts that demonstrates how “God in Jesus Christ … show[s] a marked clemency to the enemies of the Jews” (Ford 1984, 89-90). Amos Yong summarizes that strangers can be welcomed and engaged following Jesus inclusive practices (Yong 2008, Kindle Electronic Edition: Location 836). Read More

Related Article
The Missing Key to the Refugee Crisis: Christian Hospitality towards Muslims (Part One)

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