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Inclusion and Boundaries, Law and Grace: Where Hospitality Meets Identity

“Boundaries help define what a household, family, church, or community holds precious. However, the modern world is deeply ambivalent about boundaries and community. Although we yearn for home and a place to belong, often we find ourselves more comfortable with empty space where we can ‘sing our own songs’ and pursue our own plans. Hospitality is fundamentally connected to place to a space bounded by commitments, values, and meanings. Part of the difficulty in recovering hospitality is connected with our uncertainty about community and particular identity.”— Christine Pohl

I often find myself unhappy with the way so many of the contentious issues of our time are framed. I have argued on this blog that I do like rights language because it simply is not biblical, and such language undermines a decisively Christian position on any matter of importance. I have also suggested that the modern liberal/conservative, left/right continuum is logically incoherent and has made too many Christians more liberal or conservative than Christian; and that such modern liberalism and conservatism are lenses that distort Christianity much more than they illuminate it.
The insightful quote above by Christine Pohl highlights for me another discussion I am not happy with; and it is one that is particularly big in my circle of United Methodism– the inclusive nature of the church and how that relates to boundaries. Instead of doing the hard work of figuring out how the church is at one and the same time an inclusively hospitable church and a people whose identity by necessity includes boundaries that cannot be crossed and remain Christian, too many people don’t seem to have room for both in their world … (Read more)
This was written by Energion Publications’ author Dr. Allan R. Bevere, pastor, professor and author of Colossians and Philemon: A Participatory Study Guide, The Politics of Witness: The Character of the Church in the World, and The Character of our Discontent.
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