Who Is My Neighbor?
Ruth Ripken offers valuable insights into how to live out biblical hospitality. By embracing different cultures, understanding the needs of others, and extending a helping hand, we can demonstrate the love of Christ and fulfill the command to love our neighbor.
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We Don’t Eat Worms
Ruth Ripken served spaghetti and meatballs to Muslim men who mistook it for worms. Following the command to love our neighbor involved responding with understanding, patience, and grace. Instead of reacting negatively or with offense, the Ripkens explained the misunderstanding with kindness and humor, fostering a sense of hospitality and acceptance:
Nik came into the kitchen, and he looked very puzzled. He looked at me. I said, “What’s wrong?” He said, “They don’t eat worms.” I said, “I didn’t put worms on the table.” He said (again), “They don’t eat worms…”
The command to love our neighbor is directed towards all people we encounter in our lives. It includes our immediate family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances, strangers, and even those with whom we might have differences or conflicts. It encompasses people from different backgrounds, cultures, religions, and ethnicities.
Ultimately, the command to love our neighbor requires us to go beyond our own preferences and biases, extending grace, empathy, and kindness to those we meet.
Biblical Hospitality Tips
Ruth believes biblical hospitality and building relationships with others depends on prayer. She suggests that the first step is to pray and seek God’s guidance in leading us to those individuals. The second step is to ask God to instill in us a genuine love for these people.
According to Ruth, caring enough to share Jesus with others involves a genuine concern for their well-being. It means recognizing the transformative power of the gospel and desiring to share it with those who have not yet experienced it. Ruth reminds us to share the message of Jesus with humility, respect, and sensitivity, honoring the beliefs and cultures of others.
In contrast, looking the other way implies turning a blind eye to the needs and spiritual journeys of others. As believers, we are called to be attentive and responsive to the opportunities around us. We can seek out meaningful relationships and share the gospel in a way that resonates with others.
The Nations Have Come to Us
Ruth Ripken suggests many believers have failed to actively go and share the message of Jesus with people from other nations. Therefore, God has orchestrated circumstances where individuals from various nations have come to us. This is an opportunity for believers to share their faith with those from different cultural and national backgrounds.
God works through different means to accomplish His purposes. For example, globalization and migration create opportunities for believers to interact with people from different nations within their own communities.
By meeting with individuals from other nations within our own local contexts, we have the chance to build relationships. We can demonstrate God’s love through acts of hospitality and kindness and share the good news of Jesus Christ. It is an invitation to embrace the diversity and richness of cultures and to fulfill the Great Commission by making disciples of all nations.
Effective Cross-Cultural Communication
Ruth Ripken emphasizes the importance of curiosity, asking questions, being humble, and recognizing the value and contributions of people from other cultures.
Cultivating curiosity is essential when engaging with people from different cultures. Show genuine interest in their customs, traditions, beliefs, and experiences. This creates a foundation for meaningful conversations and deeper understanding. Ask open-ended questions and actively listen to their responses. This can help bridge cultural gaps and foster mutual respect.
Asking questions demonstrates a desire to learn and understand. It allows individuals from different cultures to share their perspectives and insights. However, it is important to approach questioning with sensitivity and respect. It’s important to be mindful of potential cultural differences and avoiding intrusive or offensive inquiries.
Humility is crucial in cross-cultural communication. It’s important to remember that we have much to learn from others and that our own cultural lens may limit our understanding. Approaching interactions with a humble mindset allows for open dialogue, mutual learning, and the development of genuine relationships.
Show how people from other cultures can help you
Recognize and acknowledge the strengths and contributions of people from other cultures. This creates an environment of mutual respect and appreciation. Embrace the idea that cultural diversity enriches our lives. Recognize the value of different perspectives to break down barriers and build bridges of understanding.
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