Biblical Hospitality — Brad Brisco

In this short video Brad Brisco (missional thought leader, church planter, and church planting coach) breaks down the idea he calls “biblical hospitality.”

I love the idea of hospitality in the Bible being “love + stranger.”

That’s something that can inspire me to action!
What do you think?  How do you live out biblical hospitality?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

Intellectual Hospitality and Justice Scalia Making space for others, even those with whom we disagree

Recently a judge named Antonin Scalia on the United States’ Supreme Court died and, despite how he is sometimes portrayed, Justice Scalia was apparently a man who exhibited intellectual hospitality, even to those who did not agree with many if any of his positions.

Justice Scalia’s reputation is pretty clear to most people.  He’s called “combative,” “tough,” and “fiery.”  And its his public perception that causes many to be surprised when it is revealed that he was not only willing to have Justices of other positions on the Court but that he welcomed it and even jockeyed for it.

After Justice Scalia’s passing, David Axelrod wrote an opinion piece on CNN.com that showed just that, namely that Justice Scalia tried to influence President Obama through a back channel to have a friend, now-Justice Elena Kagan, nominated despite the fact that she is more-or-less diametrically in opposition to all of his ideological positions.

Why would he want to do this?  Axelrod thinks that “if Scalia could not have a philosophical ally in the next court appointee, he had hoped, at least, for one with the heft to give him a good, honest fight.”

To put it more succinctly: Justice Scalia was a person who valued and demonstrated intellectual hospitality.

Intellectual Hospitality

What is intellectual hospitality?

My friend, colleague, and mentor Dr. Greg Waybright says this about intellectual honesty: it is show when we “speak to one another with 1) the grace to receive and consider differing positions and 2) the courage to challenge other positions with respect-filled questions.”  I love the twofold description, one in-coming (receiving other positions with grace) and one out-going (asking respectful questions).

And it appears that Justice Scalia had this kind of intellectual hospitality.  He was “best buddies” with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, with whom he had major disagreements, and his friendship with Justice Kagan, with whom he also disagreed, grew to such an extent that they became hunting buddies.

I can’t imagine the conversations between these legal giants never ventured into ideological territory.  And when it did, they all must have demonstrated great intellectual hospitality in order to begin, foster, and deepen meaningful relationships.

This type of deference for “the other” is badly missing in the world.  (Full disclosure: I almost ended that last line with the word “today” but then I remembered that humans have been around this world for quite some time and, thus, there’s always been a great deal of need for others-focused ethics!)

Jesus and Intellectual Hospitality

Much more can be said about this topic than I’m going to say here.  But I want to make a similar point about Jesus that I made about Justice Scalia — namely, that Jesus was willing and able to interact meaningfully with people very different from him.

Think about the people that surrounded Jesus on the regular: Matthew (who was the mob-muscle kind of tax collector), Simon the Zealot (who may well have been part of a political terror group), and Judas Iscariot (who would betray Jesus, which Jesus knew from the beginning).

Then think about some of the people that Jesus went out of his way to spend time with: The Samaritan Woman (their conversation in John 4 is a great example of intellectual hospitality in action!), Nicodemus (who was a religious leader that may have been too ashamed and/or fearful to meet with Jesus in the light of day), Zacchaeus (who was the mob-boss kind of tax collector), and even the thief of the cross (who, unlike Jesus, earned his way to his capital punishment).

Jesus has no equals among any of us human beings and yet he chose to relate closely to all sorts of us when was incarnated here on earth.

And if we are to follow Jesus, then we too should exercise a bit more intellectual hospitality too.

Intellectual Hospitality: A Few Starting Points

So, how are we to manifest more intellectual hospitality in our lives?

Here are a few starting points:

  1. Interact with people who are different.  We are all deeply impacted by tribalism — we want to spend time with people just like us.  That’s simply not what Jesus did.  And beside the usual Jesus-did-it-this-way-and-so-should-we argument, being friends with an array of different sorts of people makes life much more meaningful and fulfilling.
  2. Show respect before acting on anger. If we interact with people different than us, then we are sure to come up against ideas that make us angry from time to time.  In those moments we have a choice to make — we can 1) lash out at the person espousing the offending idea(s) or 2) respectfully engage in conversation despite our anger.  Remember, we hold positions that make others angry too!  We don’t have a monopoly on indignation!
  3. Grow. There’s little that’s more narcissistic and ego-maniacal than refusing to grow.  Think about it, not wanting to grow communicates to the world that we don’t need to grow.  And we all know for a fact that we haven’t arrived — we all have miles and miles to go.  Therefore, in all our relationships we need to admit that we could learn something important and make space in order to do so.  And the best kind of space for growth is respectful conversation.
  4. Give others the same benefit of the doubt that we want given to us.  This is the golden rule of intellectual hospitality.  Would we want someone to belittle us for our ideas?  Would we want to be ostracized because of our beliefs?  Would we want someone to refuse to see the logic in our position?  Would we want our personal narratives to be disregarded without a second thought?
  5. Pray.  Intellectual hospitality can be difficult, whether we are just beginning to practice it or if we’ve been at it for decades.  And, if we’re honest, none of us can do this on our own.  We need the power of the Spirit within us to help us.  We need him, the Spirit of God, to develop in us his fruit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  And each aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is necessary for us to exhibit intellectual honesty.  So let’s pray for the Spirit to grow his fruit in us!

 

What do you think about intellectual hospitality?  Was Justice Scalia a good example of it?  What do we learn about it from Jesus?  How can we demonstrate it in our lives?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

**If you’re really into this idea of intellectual honesty, then check out this post.  In it Bob Trube makes a really strong case for having intellectual hospitality with those who differ from us greatly.  It’s a short but meaningful read!

 

5 Ways to Prepare to Be on Mission

Like everything worthwhile in life, becoming more missional requires us to prepare.  Does that mean that we have to be rigid?  Of course not!  But it does mean that we need to be thoughtful as we begin to live like a missionary.

Let me illustrate this:

My parents are visiting us for Thanksgiving.  We’ve had such a great time so far!  I’m so grateful for them and their love for us!  One of the realities when they visit, however, is that we need to prepare; we need to get ready for their arrival if we want to be hospitable.

What does that look like?  Well, this time around it meant Alida (my wife) and I carefully planning out our meals, including our Thanksgiving feast (which was a-ma-zing!).  It also means that we need to plan a few things to do.  We don’t want to fill our schedule up, because we want to have some time to just hang with my parents, but we do want to do a few things.  So this year we planned to go to a stage production and on a movie studio tour.  We’ve already had a blast, and I hope it’s going to continue!  And part of the reason this is true is that Alida and I planned well.

What then does this have to do with being on mission as a follower of Jesus?  Well, in my opinion, being on mission requires intentionality.  We usually won’t just fall into being more missional!  We need to plan for it and then we need to carry out those plans!

Here are a few ways to prepare to be on mission:

  1. Seek the Lord’s Guidance: The centrality of prayer can’t be focused upon enough!  We must connect with God and ask him how and where he wants us to be on mission.  If we go out in our own power, then we are setting up a situation where we are the ones who will get all the praise.  Instead, let’s ask the Lord in prayer what he wants for us, and then let’s follow through with our actions.
  2. Build a Support Base: Before going out on mission it’s important to have a solid team of folks who are behind you and with you.  These can be obvious people, like your friends and family, or you could reach out and ask a missional person whom you respect but don’t know all that well to mentor you through this process.  Whichever way you go, hear this: Don’t go alone!
  3. Seek Guidance: There’s an old adage that applies here: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel!  There are tons of people who have walked down this path before you.  Read books by missional thinkers (I suggest the following to start: Tangible Kingdom, AND, and The Forgotten Ways.  Another thing to do is to ask missionary-minded people whom you know what their lives look like on a day-to-day basis.  Don’t be shy to ask this!  You’d be surprised how willing people are to share and how honored they’ll be that you asked!
  4. Read about Jesus Constantly: Our best example of living missionally is in the life of Jesus himself.  So, read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John often.  Read them however makes sense to you.  Here’s what I’ve been doing lately: I read one story at a time (you can cheat and use the headings in your Bible!) and then I write down any insights that I feel the Spirit speaking into my life about how to be on mission with the risen Jesus in my own life.  This is a simple method, but it has proven very effective!
  5. Assess Your Circles: Who are you connected to?  Who are your friends?  If you’re like me, then you might find yourself completely encircled by followers of Jesus.  This is a great thing!  But it makes it a bit hard to be on mission if everyone around you already knows Jesus!  So, think carefully about how you might inject yourself into different contexts in order to become friends with those who don’t yet know Jesus.  One way that I’ve been experimenting with lately is playing pick-up basketball at a local gym.  There are hundreds of other ways.  Be creative!

There are lots of other ways to prepare to be on mission.  Can you think of any?  Let me know in the comments below!