I’ve often wondered if Christ atoning work on my behalf has any relevance to the way I live my daily life. Does Christ as my substitute only place me in a state of both forgiveness and gratitude? Or does Christ as my substitute have some representational value for the way I should live my life?

One of the texts I’m reading over the break is Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross by Hans Boersma. I’ve been challenged by the revelation that hospitality is the mark of atoneing work of Christ working itself out in a Christian. That ‘othering’ is not just baldly un-ethical, but is actually a denial of Christ’s atoneing work on my behalf, a sort of doublemindedness. While the revelation of Boersma’s point was new but the burden I feel to love the ‘other’, to welcome the ‘other’, continues on with the same difficulty in my life as it had before. As Boersma admits;

Faced with the other, we feel called to practice hospitality, but we soon realize that face-to-face encounters result in complex situations. Genuine hospitality appears to be elusive; the violence of exclusion always lurks around the corner. So what are we to do when hospitality becomes an insurmountable problem?

Its redeeming to realize that Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement on my behalf has meaning for the way I feel, for the moments I fail to love the ‘other’. The violence and costlyness of his atonement causes my heart to grieve at the sight of exclusion in my life and presses me to think about the nature of the church not only in terms of its worship but also circumspectively as I remember that we have not always welcomed the stranger and that perhaps our very models and methods of ministry continue to exclude the stranger.

How does this metaphor for atonement, hospitality, register in your day to day living? Do you think its a biblically informed metaphor? What areas in our current ecclesiologies today does it challenge?