Tuesday, February 14, 2006

smells like the kingdom

Jim’s story: Jim (name changed) knocked on the church door at 1 pm, asking to use the phone. New flat, phone not working, big bond, paid by cheque and it’s waiting for the bank to clear. Jim works the phone, rearranging appointments because cash is tight and the gas tank is in the red.

Then he’s asking if social service agencies in general do petrol? Not as a policy, I say. It’s too easy to swap petrol vouchers to feed addictions.

As Jim makes to leave, he says he’s free in the afternoons and if we want any volunteer help, to let him know. My gut says he’s genuine.

So I asked Jim if he wanted to work for his petrol. Work for 2 hours and we’d give him petrol vouchers for half a tank of gas. There’s dignity for him and benefit for us. I pair him up with our caretaker and so there’s relational mission. It sort of smells like the Kingdom.

Rob’s story: 9 hours later, Rob (name unknown), knocks on the church door. It’s 10 pm. Espresso church is just winding up in the foyer and the Sunday music group are practising in the auditorium.

Rob announces he loves Baptists and loves the faces of happy people. He asks what is happening. Rob’s breath indicates high levels of alcohol consumption. My gut says Rob wants an audience and I’m not sure we are in the entertainment business. I’m about to leave to relieve the babysitter and I don’t want Rob walking into the church, drunk, potentially pretending I let him in. In my friendlist voice I tell Rob we are finishing. Rob heads into the night.

One stranger gets work. Another stranger gets the friendlist farewell I can manage. What does the hospitality of Jesus mean? I’m not sure which, or both, smell more like the Kingdom.

Posted by steve at 10:43 PM


  1. Excellent post, Steve.

    I re-posted it over at our community blog.

    Comment by Pernell — February 15, 2006 @ 5:11 pm

  2. What a blessing that you´ve come back blogging for another season. This tells more about kingdom ethics than a lot of other stuff does. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by haso — February 15, 2006 @ 7:36 pm

  3. the major point for me is that they found you, they both knew where to come and they found respect.

    Comment by gordon — February 16, 2006 @ 12:23 am

  4. today i quoted your entry on my blog and commented a little bit on it.

    Comment by haso — February 16, 2006 @ 7:37 pm

  5. Haso,
    thankyou. I like way you pick up smell in your blog post (if the google translate feature is accurate). I have just started reading Derrida’s On Touching, in which he explores the place of touch, including in the ministry of Jesus. It is opening new doors for me on an embodied gospel. I think you do the same with your thoughts on smell.

    Comment by steve — February 16, 2006 @ 9:08 pm

  6. Hey Steve – just to let you know I still check in on you regularly – and appreciate your reflections like this one – The both smell like the Kingdom to me (from your description)

    Janet McKinney

    Comment by Janet McKinney — February 16, 2006 @ 10:02 pm

  7. steve invited me to add what i commented on my own blog – in my own translation, which might be even a little bit more accurate than google translation´s excellent work 🙂

    Nothing special. Just two little incidents, both of which will not change the world. But they contain an insight, which could change you: The Kingdom of God has a flavor, you can smell it.

    The longer I meditate about it, the more I am sure: to “see”, “hear”, “smell”, “taste” and “feel” God and his Kingdom is not just a metaphor. Our “inner man” has senses, just as our body does.

    With our outer senses we get directly aware of the outer world. Nobody must explain to you, what you smell. Often it is hard to describe. But the flavor is real.

    With our inner senses we get directly aware of God and his world. Nobody must explain to us, what we smell. Sometimes it is almost impossible to describe. But this flavor is real too, and we reckognize it.

    This even affects our ethics. You had to write a long article in order to analyse and find criteria on when to receive somebody and when to give him a friendly farewell. But if you follow your “inner nose”, you simply know. It just smells like the Kingdom.

    The purpose of the Bible is not, to explain casuistically for every life situation, what to do and when to do it. It´s a book for the training of your inner senses (Hebrews 5,14). Then, when Jim or Rob will knock at your door, you will know what to do. It will smell like the Kingdom.

    Comment by haso — February 17, 2006 @ 6:26 pm

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