I wonder what you think it means to be a good guest? What kind of guests do you like having in your home? I’ve just got home from hearing a few great talks at an evening run by the Centre for Public Christianity. One of those talks was on what it means to be good guests in this world that we live in.
One of the key principles in the talk was that to be good guests we need to accept that we are outsiders, that our faith and worldview is not the dominant narrative and understanding in our culture today. Not only is that the case, it’s also true that we live in a world that is largely ignorant about what we believe. The statistics say that 60% of people don’t have a close friend who is a Christian. We live in a culture that’s not versed in the Christian faith. For some of us, that’s a very different world to the one that we grew up in or spend much of our time in.
In such a world, how should we then live? How might we be good and welcome guests? Since we certainly can’t assume shared understandings or foundations, nor can we speak in an entitled way, we might be good guests by being good company and good listeners. We might be good company by being decent people, well meaning, well read and interesting. We might be good listeners by asking good questions, attending to people’s answers and restraining our need to say everything (about the gospel) all at once. When people encounter us, we want them to experience us as good news; we want them to experience life. They might experience that if we show practical, sacrificial love. We know how powerful that is. People might also experience that as we share some great stories – our own stories, stories of people we know, stories of people through the ages and stories from the Bible. What a rich collection of stories we have to share and that people will often find very compelling.
Another of the talks was based on 1 Peter 3:13-16, a passage we looked at earlier in the year. In this passage, we are exhorted to be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have, to speak as those who have set apart Christ as Lord and out of our worship of Him, and to speak with gentleness and respect. John Dickson urged us to speak up about our faith, to speak from worship, not fear, and to speak with grace. As he spoke to this passage, he particularly emphasised that when we live knowing that Jesus rules and reigns, knowing that He owns every room, then we can be more confident, less pushy and less fearful in engaging with the world around us. How true is that!
Such good stuff in there. Where and how might you be a good and welcome guest this week?