Stranger god welcoming jesus in disguise
Stranger God: Meeting Jesus in Disguise by Richard BeckAn ancient belief suggested that in entertaining strangers one might entertain angels (gods) unawares. Abraham entertained three strangers, who are identified as the Lord. These same three strangers visit Sodom, and are welcomed by Abrahams nephew, but not be the community at large, leading to their destruction. Jesus spoke of judging between sheep and goats (Matthew 25)The basis of judgment was serving Jesus, but in the form of the naked, the imprisoned, the hungry (that is, the stranger).
Stranger God is Richard Becks most recent book. If you havent read Beck, you should. I have found Richard to be one of the most insightful and provocative writers and speakers of our day. A psychologist teaching at a Church of Christ related university in west Texas, Beck has found a way to integrate his training in psychology with profound theological insight. He also brings significant practical experience with living as a follower of Jesus, not as a perfect exemplar, but as a fellow traveler.
In this book, Beck invites us to meet Jesus in disguise. By that, he means the men he meets in prison when teaching his Bible study at a local prison, or a homeless person. This is a book about hospitality, but with a twist. You wont find any recipes or guidelines for proper etiquette. Instead, we have here a book rooted in Matthew 25, inviting us to encounter the Jesus who comes to us in disguise, in foreigners and refugees, in the homeless and the outcasts, in the prisoner and the hungry. This is a book about the strangeness of a God who comes to us in strangers (pp. 1-2). Martha Stewart will be of little help with the kind of hospitality envisioned here. With Matthew 25 in mind, Beck suggests that we tend to act as goats because strangers are strange. And that makes God strange (p. 6). Such a God makes us feel uncomfortable. The reason why Beck isnt offering us a Martha Stewart manual on Christian hospitality, is that the kind of hospitality he envisions is not wrapped up in a program, but is rooted in the heart. We can have programs and pass laws, but nothing really changes until hearts are changed.
Stranger God is divided into five parts with seventeen chapters in all. Part one is titled Entertaining Angels, and in the three chapters in this section of the book, Beck lays out the theological and practical foundations, including focusing on the nature of our circle of affections. In this chapter he reveals a key to our struggle to be truly hospitable to the stranger, and that is our desire to connect with our friends. This is the question that is firmly planted in our minds when we go somewhere, including church -- are my friends here? With this as our primary focus we find it difficult to see the stranger in our midst. As Beck puts it: Jesus comes to us in disguise. Welcome the ignored and marginalized, says Jesus, and you welcome me. (p. 36)
In Part 2 of the book, titled The Emotional Battlefield, Beck takes up the elements of our lives that tend to keep us from fully recognizing and welcoming the stranger. Much of this section is rooted in Becks earlier book Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality. He deals with issues of disgust, death, contempt (He writes that hospitality isnt just about welcoming sinners; its also about welcoming people we think are idiots (p. 98). There is a powerful chapter here about building walls, that is, when fear captures our hearts. We know how that works at this moment in time. Some of those walls are present in our churches -- when those people show up, whoever those people might be.
Part 3 is titled I shall be love. Here he writes abouit the nature of love and how it is the heart of the church. Here in this section, he brings into the conversation his reading of Therese of Lisieuxs Story of the Soul. From Therese he discovers a form of radical hospitality that is not meant to fill our schedules with more things to do, but opens us up to doing the little things that make a difference. Then in Part 4, Practicing Hospitality, he writes about seeing, stopping, and approaching, all concepts and practices that flesh out what he learns from Therese. In the chapter on stopping, he reminds us that too often we fail to notice the stranger, because were too much in a hurry. It is a time thing. The Samaritan helps the wounded person, because he took the time to see and stop, and then approach.
Finally, in part 5, he explores our desire to save the world. To do this, he suggests we love locally. This is, he suggests, the little way, of St. Therese. The key here is breaking down affectional barriers so that surprising and unexpected friendships can happen (p. 211). Until we can expand our own circle of affections, we will not in a position to save the world. Saving the world involves doing for, but loving locally involves doing with. There is a difference.
Becks conclusion will surprise. I think Ill leave that unrevealed, because you need to read the book to be prepared for his rather simple recommendation.
This s a book that needs to be read and taken to heart. Yes, you might call me a Beck fan, but thats because I have found him to be a person of profundity, but who is also very down to earth. Ive had the opportunity to get to know him through some local connections. Ive come to know his story, and I am always enriched both by his conversations and by his books. And just as I found Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted to be essential reading, I would say the same for this book. In fact, read this book before you begin your next Facebook or Twitter spat. It might change the way you view the other!
Jesus in Disguise - Brandon Heath
Stranger God: Welcoming Jesus in Disguise
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again.
In , I published Unclean and began to receive calls from churches and faith communities to come and talk about psychology and hospitality. Specifically, we know we are called to be communities of hospitality, but churches struggle mightily to cross social boundaries. Why is that so hard? Well, the answer is Social Psychology We are attracted to sameness, the similar, and the familiar, and are wary and apprehensive toward difference and the unfamiliar.