John Calvin on Hospitality, Dignity and the Power of Recognition

“Therefore, whatever man you meet who needs your aid, you have no reason to refuse to help him. Say, “He is a stranger,” but the Lord has given him a mark that ought to be familiar to you, by virtue of the fact that he forbids you to despise your own flesh (Isa. 58:7). You say, “He is contemptible and worthless;” but the Lord shows him to be one to whom he has deigned to give the beauty of his image. Say that you are nothing for any service of his; but God, as it were, has put him in his own place in order that you may recognize toward him the many and great benefits with which God has bound to you to himself. Say that he does not deserve even your least effort for his sake; but the image of God, which recommends him to you, is worthy of your giving yourself and all your possessions.   (from Institutes 3.7.6)

 

“We should not regard what a man is and what he deserves but we should go higher—that it is God who has placed us in the world for such a purpose that we be united and joined together. He has impressed his image in us and has given us a common nature, which should incite us to providing for one another. The man who wishes to exempt himself from providing for his neighbors should deface himself and declare that he no longer wishes to be a man for as long as we are human creatures we must contemplate as in a mirror our face in those who are poor, despised, exhausted, who groan under their burdens….if there come some Moor or barbarian, since he is a man, he brings a mirror in which we are able to contemplate that he is our brother and our neighbor: for we cannot abolish the order of nature which God has established as inviolable.”   (from Corpus Reformatorium)

(Both of these quotes were found in Christine Pohl’s Making Room: Recovery Hospitality as a Christian Tradition)

 

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