I was crammed in my seat flying off on a great adventure in Oman and Egypt. The purpose was to learn about interfaith dialogue while being immersed in a culture in which I would be the minority. I am Christian, and the culture I was stepping into is Muslim. I am white, and the people there are brown. I do not like heat, and I would be hot. I like lakes and forests, and I would be in the desert. I wear western clothes, and it could be offensive in some settings. I like to eat, and I wasn’t sure what I’d be served. I speak English, and most will speak Arabic.
If that wasn’t unsettling enough, I realized I was entering this experience without my usual ministry purpose, those things that make me feel confident. I was not asked to speak or train or coach. In fact, I had a sense that most would not even be interested in what I had to offer. I was entering this culture as a guest, not the host. I was not in charge. The only thing I was bringing was my presence and the light I have within me.
Guest, not host. As a guest I received from people who wanted to share their culture with me. They served me well by introducing delicious new foods. They taught me how to cross the street on the ridiculously busy streets of Cairo. Muslim leaders entered into gracious dialogue with me based on readings from the Bible and the Koran. They helped me understand and appreciate some of their religious and cultural practices. I saw older sites than I will ever see again and learned how history and Christianity were shaped in those places. I received all these things, and more, because I was willing to be the guest, not the host.
God brings a great diversity of people into our neighborhoods and Coffee Break groups. What difference might if make if we enter into those relationships as guests, not hosts. What will we learn if we take time to simply listen? What conversations might open up if we remain curious? How might we learn to appreciate, and maybe even experience, a cultural background unlike our own? What difference will it make if we enter those relationships without our usual agendas and let others be the hosts? How might that open the doors to spiritual conversations? How might it grow us as disciples?
Being sent as guests, not hosts, seems to have been Jesus’ way of sending out disciples. Take some time to dwell in Luke 10:1-12. What do you learn from Jesus’ instructions to these 70 people about being sent as a guest, not a host? How will you follow Jesus’ instructions as you consider entering into relationships with your neighbors and those who come to Coffee Break? What would you like to learn as a guest of someone who is so different than you? What difference will approaching relationships as a guest make as we think of entering spiritual conversations?
Try it. If you are like me, it starts as an uncomfortable posture, but ends up being pretty fun. It is a posture God will use.
What about you? How can you become the guest in your neighborhood? How can you enter the lives of those in your Coffee Break group as a guest, not always the host? What stories do you have of how you experienced God when you became the guest?
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