Usually when we talk about hospitality we assume a home-orientation. And while it’s true that most hospitality is lived out in the home, it is actually more broad than that. We saw that on Sunday when we talked about my son, Caleb, and the way he reaches out to his friends. More importantly, we see it in Jesus – the model of hospitality.
So, what is it exactly that makes someone hospitable? We have said it’s not their stuff. Or even a well-cooked meal. Now we’re saying it’s not even about their home. So, what are we saying?
The dictionary defines it this way:
Honestly, I don’t think that quite gets to it. I like that it includes visitors and strangers. Because I do think hospitality is about more than hanging out with our buddies. But, I think it misses something that only the synonyms start to get at a little bit.
Remember when I said that hospitality is, at its root, an invitation? I really meant it. It’s an openness and warmth. A spirit of welcome, if you will. It’s a heart that is always looking outward – an others-centeredness that asks, “how can I make the people around me feel more at-ease and loved on?” It’s a warm smile and an offer to help when that young mom’s toddler knocks the display over in the grocery store. It’s making a little more room on the bleachers to accommodate the newbie mom at your boys’ football game. It’s noticing the new, quieter couple who isn’t certain where the children’s wing is located at church on Sunday morning. It’s arriving early to get a table when you’re meeting a friend for lunch. It’s telling a self-deprecating story for the sole purpose of setting that socially awkward person at ease. It’s opening your office door and having a bowl of candy on your desk. It’s letting the guy with two items go in front of your full cart even though you were in line first.
Don’t confuse it with random acts of kindness or the pay it forward thing. It’s sort of like that but it’s more than that. It’s not one action but a whole way of life. An orientation. Toward inviting people in. Because, let’s be honest, you can do something nice for someone but sort of secretly hope they don’t really talk to you or require much of your time. Hospitality doesn’t do that. Hospitality says, “sure, come on in.”
When you have that kind of orientation, you can take it anywhere with you.
In fact, our Lord did it all the time. He had no home of His own. But, we see Him taking care of people everywhere He went. Welcoming children into His lap even when the disciples said He was too busy. Feeding 5,000 listeners even though He really just wanted some alone time. Calming the storms when His buddies were going all drama on Him. Restoring leprous skin for the untouchable. Drawing more than water from the well – but using it as a chance to engage with a broken outcast. Explaining the meaning behind hard teachings. Removing religious burden and duty.
He had an others-centered orientation. A spirit of welcome and invitation. In fact, what was that one thing He always used to say? Oh yeah, I’ll never forget it. Never. Not since He whispered it to me all those years ago. Come.
He was always inviting people to come. Inviting them in.
And the most hospitable invitation of all:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.”
Have you found rest for your soul?
If not, maybe you should accept Jesus’ invitation. You can hear more about it here. (Yeah, it’s a door. In field. Just watch it.)
If so, how are you at creating space for other people in your life to find rest? It’s likely the most hospitable thing you’ll ever do.
Grace and peace,
This post is the ninth in a series of 31 days of posts where I’ll be exploring the topic of hospitality. If you missed the beginning, you’ll want to go here to get caught up. I’m linking up with other 31 Dayers here, if you’re intrigued and you’d like to see more or check out some other bloggers who are writing on a variety of topics. I’d love it if you came back to join me for all 31 Days so feel free to subscribe and get my little blog delivered right to your inbox. You can do so in the top right corner of this page.