Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hospitality I Want

Sharing today over at MomHeart

Uncomfortable Hospitality
I have a friend named Serenity who lives out hospitality in an incredibly selfless way. Along with her husband and four kids, this suburban family in the northwest started a food pantry out of their garage. They saw needs in their community and simply decided to do something.
Serenity hosts meals inside the house too. At first, almost all the guests were complete strangers, spoke a different language, and were folks who most of us may feel a bit uncomfortable entertaining within our personal space or having around our children. 
But now they have become friends and Serenity tells me, "It is heartbreaking at times as Jesus shows lies, preconceived ideas, ignorance, and just plain fear in me. Being intimately involved in the lives of our neighbors has been one of the biggest blessings to my life with Jesus. They give me kisses, hugs, and endearing words as they leave our house that sometimes make me fall to pieces.  I really don’t know how I get to be loved like this."
Serenity is honest about the struggles and the refinement in this journey of hospitality for their family. It is not always easy or pretty, but they are taking serious the Bible's call to care for people, whether it makes them feel comfortable or not. 
She says, "No matter how your house looks, the way you treat others overrides even the most immaculate, beautiful house.  Hospitality is not about impression, it is about loving others."
Don't Fool Yourself
The most moving gestures of hospitality I have experienced have not necessarily been within large, pristine homes. They've not had manicured lawns and a table filled with endless delicacies. 
So why do I, time and time again, fool myself into thinking I need those things to show hospitality towards others? Why do I allow insecurities of my housekeeping skills, my decorating budget, or my lack of nice shrubbery rob me of the joy?
The most gracious gestures of hospitality have been from friends, family, and strangers opening up their homes and lives to us, especially in times of need. Their genuine love  has trumped pretenses.
Biblical hospitality reflects a genuine heart, a focus on others rather than one's own appearance, and in those days there was often an element of danger, and definitely discomfort.
It meant providing lodging for strangers when the alternative was too expensive or too dangerous. It took vulnerable courage for the Christians in Rome to live out what Paul asked them to do when he said, "I appeal to you, by the mercies of God... do not be conformed to this world... Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." (Romans 12)
Do you, like me, aspire towards greater measures of hospitality in your home? 
Here are a few more thoughts:
Pray and listen to the Holy Spirit. Be open to adjustments in your perception of  hospitality.
Serenity talks about the ways their family has had to adjust to, and revise their expectations. They are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and the needs of their own children. For example, recently they began closing off their children's rooms while visitors were over because of the stress the mess was putting on their kids with people constantly in their home.
Tidiness is a good thing, but not at the expense of relationship.
My husband and I decided years ago that if arguments started to boil up between the two of us in the mad dash to prepare  for guests we would halt the clean-up and let our guests see the house as-is, an obvious humbling consequence.  Our family relationships are more important than the appearance of a well-kept house. And what could be more nauseating to my family than to hear me snap at them, then instantly turn on a happy face when guests walk through the door. 
This has resulted in an attempt to stay on top of chores consistently throughout the week so that last-minute visitors are always welcome. Try leaving that pile of laundry out instead of stuffing it in a closet; it might just make your guest feel even more at home.
Imitate the example of the ultimate act of hospitality 

If you are a believer in Christ, you have experienced the ultimate act of hospitality from your Savior: adoption into His family as a son or daughter, and permanent residency in his home. Allow this deep gospel confidence to influence the way you display hospitality towards others.


Check out more posts on Hospitality over the next few weeks!