(4 minute read)
Jericho hums about its business just like any other day. In a quiet corner, spies of a different kingdom watch. They are a threat to the status quo and powers-that-be, so they are received only by a "harlot" on the margins of society. As we reflect on this, we do well to open our ears to the warning Jesus gave to the safe, secure, and satisfied people of his own day:
“Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him” (Matthew 21:31–32).
So who is welcome in the Kingdom of God? Simply put, those who welcome the Kingdom of God. Rahab saw and responded to the signs of God’s Kingdom coming. In order to do this, we have to step out our immersion in the normal flow of the world to see things with eyes like Rehab’s. We have to become citizens and ambassadors and spies of a different Kingdom, praying and pushing for the new Kingdom to come. We look around and see everything as promised and claimed by God for his plan of redemption. With this perspective, Rahab received God's Kingdom by receiving his people. Centuries before Christ, she obeys and embodies his teaching:
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me...And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (Matthew 10:40, 42).
Hospitality is a Kingdom act. However we receive and treat our brothers and sisters is how we receive and treat God himself. ...Jesus sharpens this lesson when he envisions the measure by which all peoples will be judged:
"Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:41–46).
We receive Jesus not only in fellow believers, but in every human person who bears his image, down to “the least of these.” It is humbling and harrowing to realize that those outside the Kingdom are not necessarily the willfully evil but the distracted, the self-centered, and the stingy—those who neglect people in need. This vision completely dismantles all of our moral posturing and platitudes. In the end, Jesus is only concerned with how we care for others.
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Tomorrow on the Daily Connection: Who Is My Neighbor?
About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC