“One thing is true about people in India. People in India are very hospitable.”
It was a slow night at the Macy’s jewelry counter. After learning of my upcoming travels, the Indian salesclerk offered insight to her home country while I browsed racks of ribbon and rhinestones.
I was intrigued.
“If you are a visitor, they believe you have been sent by God. In fact,” she continued, “next time you go to India, visit my parents. They live in Delhi. They will welcome you.”
They will welcome you. You don’t even know my name, but they will welcome you. You don’t know my religious or political leanings, but they will welcome you. You don’t know any of my biases or blinders, but they will welcome you. You don’t know me to be influential or well-respected in any way whatsoever, but they will welcome you. You don’t even know if we acknowledge the same fundamental truth, but they will welcome you because they believe you have been sent by God.
It hit hard as I stood there with hands full of bangles and chains. Could we say the same of the Body of Christ? Could we even say the same within the Body of Christ? Can we say that we welcome you — you the sinner, you the blind outsider, you the failed insider, you the diseased, you the defiled, you the broken, you the oppressed, you the obstinate, you the struggling, you the difficult, you the imperfect — because we believe you have been sent to us by the Living God?
Shouldn’t this undeservedly hospitable love be the very defining mark of the Church, of those indwelt by the Holy Spirit? I don’t know which god the salesclerk referred to, but this unmerited, unreasonable welcoming is consistent with the unmerited, unreasonable Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“I’m here twice a week in the evenings,” she said as she boxed earrings and necklaces. “You can always ask for me. If you go back to India, come and visit me here and I’ll give you my mother and father’s address.”
I sincerely hope I have the opportunity. It’s possible, with a ten-year visa.
May they always be eager to return, eager to know our Father’s address, eager for the infinite visa.
“Have a safe and happy journey,” she called as I walked towards the escalator.