Radical Grace and Hospitality: The power of the Gospel

Radical Grace and Hospitality: The power of the Gospel

Binu B. Peniel

Grace of God can be defined as God’s unmerited favor. It is God’s riches at God’s expense. When I was growing up in India the teaching and the philosophy of ‘Karma’ or duty and its influence upon one's life and the future existence was a powerful aspect or understood to be a determining factor for one's destiny. I sometimes doubt how much Indians 2.3% Christianity philosophically, ideologically, morally, and theologically influenced by over 80% of Hindus in India. In other words, what is the effect of 827 million people, over 24 million Christians?   In this particular context, we need to understand the finished work of Christ on the cross. Do I need to work hard for my salvation? When we think about Christianity in India, one of my major concerns is also related to the victimized mentality and the feeling of unworthiness by the minority.  The fundamental message of the gospel is based on God’s radical grace totally based upon trusting in God and relying upon Him.

During my missionary journey in India, when I shared the gospel with pre-Christians (unbelievers), I have observed the excitement and a great release of burden in their eyes knowing the fact that salvation is free. The farness of God is in contradiction with the nearness of God, and it needs to be understood as the greatness of God. 

The Greek word “Soteria” is translated as "salvation" means more than forgiveness of sin; it also means welfare, healing, deliverance, preservation, safety, and prosperity. It's a word that summarizes everything that Jesus provided for us through His death, burial, and resurrection. I also see God’s hand in the use of Greek language, which was the universal and profound philosophical language of the first century, used by God, apostles, and the early church to explain this powerful message.  This is why I call grace is radical and it has no ordinary explanation.

The concept of Radical grace or hospitality is drastically different from ordinary practices and it always stands outside the norm. Mostly when we hear the word radical we think about 'out of ordinary or revolutionary'.  ‘I was a stranger and you welcome me and love your neighbor as yourself are the biblical basis for radical hospitality and grace.  Radical hospitality creates a space of grace in our family, in our churches, and in our personal space.  Timothy Keller once said; Chance won’t happen through trying harder but through encountering the radical grace of God.

It is not about the rules, when we touch the pain of the world with the gospel of grace it releases hope and the darkness departs and God’s light of grace reigns.  Fighting against injustice, poverty, discrimination is the mission of God in the most radicalized world. Radicalized Islam is the most dangerous threat of this century.  The radical grace and hospitality of the Christian church are the total opposite of radicalized terrorism.

The message of the Gospel requires a holy shift.  Our true existence is not in this world but in eternity. We travel distance not only in this world but also in our dreams. Jesus’ encounter with sinful women narrated in St. Luke 7:36-50 is a perfect example of how Jesus exercised radical grace. In the text, Jesus is making a paradigm shift from radical judgment to radical grace. Sex and sexual thoughts are considered evil and sinful by the Pharisees even though every seven seconds men think about sex. In the practical life of the Pharisees, they avoid touching their penis while urinating. They don’t even accidentally touch a woman because touching a women’s little finger was as serious as touching her genitals. While walking down the street or rocky mountain they would stare at the ground or close their eyes to avoid seeing any women – some even boasted about the wounds they got from accidentally walking into walls and falling down the cleft. I was also reminded about the controversial prayer at the time of Jesus’s days; Oh lord, I thank you that I am neither a Gentile, a slave, a dog, or a woman. Jesus inaugurated the radical moment of liberation for women.

In the postmodern socialistic world of today, I don’t see any organization other than religious bodies (church) that discriminate women from leadership and equal participation. The influence of the patriarchal context still exists in India as a domineering factor and even within the church. I am sure we will not run out with a number of fingers in our hands if we count the number of ordained ministers in India. If Mary, the mother of Jesus can be pregnant with the incarnated word (LOGOS- I John 1:14) she can carry the mantle of the written word (Bible). God is still looking for “little Christ” or Christians who exercise radical hospitality and grace to liberate the church and the world.  While the disciples of Jesus were in Antioch which was a pagan city, they were called "little Christ" or Christians to mock them, which turn to be a badge of honor.

Right after thanksgiving celebration again as part of the Christian tradition people celebrate Christmas and decorate homes with dummies of baby Jesus. We take Jesus out of the box and put them back in the box.  The real Jesus was always out of the box with his teaching, living and ministry.

The power of the gospel is transformative and revolutionary. Today my prayer is to let your kingdom come and let your will be done. Every evil hand, imperial systems and victimized and defeated mentality that is drawing our feet, hearts, minds, and our hands into poverty, setbacks, disappointments, discrimination, accidents, fake-love, discouragements, fear of failure, sadness, sorrow, and narrow mindedness will die in the name of Yeshua (Jesus) and die by fire, die by the blood of Jesus. Amen. 

2015 (c) www.binupeniel.com


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