reality check::the current state of hospitality

>> March 2, 2009

Western culture has become incredibly individualistic. Once upon a time, people's lives focused around each other. They gathered in each other's homes and took great joy in fellowship. Nowadays, not so much. We like our space. We like our privacy. We want all the strangers to please go to their own homes after church, thank you very much.

But although we've become heavily obsessed with keeping to ourselves, there's a generational boomerang that's starting to crave genuine community again. Where people put actual time and energy into their relationships on a broader level. Where homes are open spaces for friendships to flourish.

And (generational boomerang or not) as Christians, we have a biblical mandate to share of ourselves in hospitality. It's right there in Hebrews 13:2, Titus 1:8 (and quite a few other places). Plain as day. Not "if it's my personality", or "as long as my house is spiffy this time". It's not about impressing people or making ourselves look good, it's about the inescapable bonding that takes place better in a home than anywhere else. It's about table fellowship - even if the meal is only tea and crackers.

As PWs, we have a biblical calling to model to others what that kind of selfless hospitality looks like. Hospitality is a biblical requirement for eligibility of elders/overseers/deacons and by implication all church leaders - beyond the scriptures' calling to every God-follower in general. It isn't always comfortable, but it's part of the package. Yup, even if it means answering the door when there's a mound of dirty dishes in the sink. Or adding water to the soup when someone unexpected gets added to the guest list.

Now this doesn't mean you have no boundaries. It doesn't mean you're necessarily called to feed a long list of hungry people every single weekend. It doesn't mean you should kill yourself to make fancy meals so everyone thinks you're the best cook at church. And certainly every PW has her own personality and style and gifts.

But, as I read the Bible, I think it does mean that we should each be willing to ask God how we can use the homes and talents that he has given to us as a resource to consistently bless the people we serve. Maybe He's going to call us to do a bit of growing? Maybe He's going to tell us to pull back a bit and make it more heartfelt and less of a show? Maybe He's going to gently remind us that it's more about putting ourselves out there than about whether the house is in perfect shape when they visit?


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