Hey there, welcome back and today is a day that I would love to sit and see you as we unpack wholeness from an ancient box. If you are anything like me, you revel in a good treasure hunt. There is something about a trip to a thrift store or a garage sale or perhaps an attic that ignites in us the desire to find something of great value buried deep in the piles of junk and clutter, right? I believe that what we are doing, as we open the Bible, is far superior to the above for multiple reasons:
1-Every word in the Bible is God-breathed and therefore there is NO JUNK in the Bible.
2-Unlike family heirlooms or rare artifacts from the past, the Bible is living and therefore is vital for living today.
3-The Bible is a priceless treasure because it contains the thoughts of God Himself and He speaks to us that we may know and love Him.
Therefore, I pray that your excitement builds as we talk today about a path to wholeness that has ancient origins….hospitality. According to the dictionary, hospitality is defined as “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers. The quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, and generous way.”
I was extremely blessed to grow up in a loving, Christian and southern home. My mother was an extraverted only child and loved cultivating relationships through spending quality time with others. Our home was always a place where family and friends could come for a meal and visit. My Mom loved to host and as I got older, I enjoyed planning meals and menus with her. I was taught to cook and clean but more importantly I was encouraged to have rich conversations with others. I am forever thankful for this training and the godly example of my Mom.
By God’s grace, my husband was raised in a similar home and my Mother in Law is a great hostess. Therefore, it was never a question of whether or not Keith and I would invite people over to our house. We began our married life living in a small one bedroom apartment and though the space was quite limited, we were blessed to have friends and family come for a meal or even an overnight visit. After several years of marriage we moved to our own home and continued to welcome people for dinner and fellowship. We have been hosting for 23 years and we are better for it all. The memories and relationships forged through hosting are rich.
I learned something powerful when we went to China for 4 years and lived in an apartment complex. Prior to our China move, I had subtly allowed my desire to hostothers be confused with entertaining others. And there is a vast difference! Cloth napkins, lovely centerpieces, coordinated dishes, the right beverages may be vital to entertaining (or putting on a show for others) but they are only extras when we desire to host others. I discovered that week after week as people gathered in our apartment (either spontaneously or planned) they were not coming for the cloth napkins, the ambience or the fabulous menu. They were coming because they wanted to be loved, to be a part of something, to be known, to be heard and to just be.
Friend, this is where the treasure is and there is a giant “X” here! I love to read. I mean, I really, really love to read. Recently, I have read two books back to back on what the Bible says about hospitality. Both were amazing and were full of truth, reminders, conviction and inspiration. What the Lord stirred in my heart through these two books and the Word itself was that:
hospitality is a key to unlock wholeness in others!
If you have followed this blog, you remember that we talked about the crazy, hectic, busyness that marks most of us these days. At least in the US, we spend more time eating in the car on the way to somewhere else instead of opting to sit down with our family at a table and talk about life. Since we are barely able to get our families together, there is little chance we can add friends or neighbors to that mix (unless they want to meet us at an activity and eat to-go dinners with us).
Both of the books I read emphasized the importance of sitting down and eating at a table. Both books referenced the myriad of times life and ministry and supernatural things happened at a table in Scripture. Keith and I can personally testify about the amazing things that have happened both in the US and China while we sat and talked over a meal with our family and friends. Could we be missing something basic in our family relationships because we don’t take the time to sit? Are we forgetting that our children are learning from us and how it’s easier to grab something and go, texting friends along the way rather than to sit and actually hold life giving conversations and see expressions on the faces of those around us?
Let me say this, hospitality is not about the size, cleanliness or location of your home. Hospitality is about the attitude of the people who dwell inside. Are we welcoming? Are we available? Are we transparent? If you have people in your home often enough they will see: 1-your kids have a melt down, 2-your spouse give “a look,” 3-your food scorch or burn, 4-your toilet overflow, etc. (Yes, all of these have happened to us!) But guess what all those things do for those who are in your home, it lets them know that it’s all right for them to have others over and that they can bring their honest reality into your home and it will be okay. Your house is transformed into a sacred and safe space for others to feel loved and ultimately encounter Jesus.
Hospitality is also an attitude that reaches outside your home. Maybe it’s a lunch table at work or a conversation in a public place, or a seat next to you on a bus or at church. It’s an attitude of the heart that says, “You’re welcome”.
I confessed to being an avid list maker in a recent post, but this is where my type A personality actually is a good thing. Keith and I make lists of people that we would like to have over. Whether co-workers or friends, or people we’d like to be friends with and we also leave space for those people we may encounter just in daily life that we feel could use a meal and time to sit and talk. All this requires a little planning, some margin in our calendars and budgeting. I’ve also learned how to feed a lot of people on a budget (because I realized that for guests-any food that they don’t have to cook is the best kind).
Our hearts are continually being blessed and stretched as we open our home to more and more people, but isn’t this the heart of the gospel? Jesus came and stretched out His arms for us on the cross that eternal life and love may be opened to us. He welcomes us over and over to come and sit with Him. We ask Him for daily bread and we are welcomed because of His generosity. I pray that we will follow His example and find the value of true hospitality.
Check out our Instagram and Facebook for the books I referenced in the post today.