One-on-One with Krish Kandiah on Stranger Grace and Stranger Danger
December 28, 2017
God is strange, unpredictable, and inscrutable
Ed Stetzer: What do you mean when you say “God is stranger”?
Krish Kandiah: Well, for a start, God is stranger than we give him credit for. The Bible is full of awkward parts where God behaves in unpredictable or strange ways—although mostly I think we tend to ignore those bits.
Think about God turning up in disguise at Abraham’s tent or bargaining with him over the fate of Sodom. God—again in the form of a stranger—wrestles with Jacob and somehow both loses the fight and permanently disables him. God allows Naomi to suffer famine, displacement, widowhood, and the death of both her sons without so much as word of heavenly comfort.
What is going on in all these Bible stories? God is strange, unpredictable, and inscrutable, but perhaps we need to give attention to these darker, provocative parts of the Bible to help us to discover something we all want—a deeper understanding of who God is.
Ed: But your book makes another more urgent claim about how we treat the God who is a stranger.
Krish: Yes, it’s not just to Abraham, Jacob, and others in the Old Testament that God turns up in the guise of a stranger. In the New Testament Jesus does the same. Think about that apparently ill-informed wanderer who doesn’t know what’s been going on in Jerusalem.
On the Emmaus road it is only after the desperately disappointed disciples beg the stranger with an extraordinary grasp of Scripture into their house to break bread with them that their eyes are opened to who he is.
Time and again, it is in hospitality to the stranger that people are given a life-changing encounter with God. In the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus goes as far as saying that how we respond to the hungry, …