In this post I want to discuss how the eccentricity of God helps us envision something else: hospitality and welcoming God in the stranger.
Welcoming God in the stranger has been such a huge theme over the last ten years I don't know if I need to review that idea here. I simply want show how the notion of eccentricity nicely informs our theology of hospitality.
The insight should be obvious. If God is always coming to us from outside the boundaries of the faith community then God is always approaching us as the stranger. Strangers, by definition, are eccentric. In all the shades of meaning. Strangers are different from us. Strangers are on the edges. At the margins. Outside the boundaries and borders. Strangers are Them rather than Us.
Thus, the welcoming of the stranger is an eccentric encounter.
Consequently, a hospitable community will be eccentrically oriented, moving out from the center toward the edges and then past the boundaries to the area "outside" the faith community.
We encounter Jesus eccentrically, going to find him "outside the gates."
A missional community is an eccentric community, a community facing outward toward the stranger rather than inward upon themselves.
The eccentric, hospitable and missional community is not incurvatus in se--curved inward upon themselves--but is, rather, excurvatus ex se, curved outward in welcome to others.