Sisters in Spirit is a series of blog posts by a group of women who felt that a spiritual perspective was lacking from the steady stream of news and information that flowed through their daily lives. They each agreed to carve out a space on their blogs on a monthly basis for a spiritual conversation. The topic this month is: Hospitality.
Generally when I hear the word hospitality I think of serving food to guests in the comfort of my own home. Please consider that it’s so much more:
“Our rugged American individualism hasn’t done us any favors where hospitality is concerned. Combine that with our obsession with electronics and you have, perhaps, the loneliest group of people that have ever lived… Occasionally, when a crisis hits, we are jarred awake to our need for others but for most of our lives, we live in blurry state of self-sufficiency and self-absorption. But, we were never meant for this modern isolationism. Hospitality has its roots in the ancient world, where caring for strangers was a matter of life and death. They were keenly aware of their need for each other and it was a matter of survival.” -31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality
I simply could not come up with a better way to describe the urgency of hospitality so I borrowed it from Edie who said it so well. I love the imagery ancient hospitality conjures up: caring for a strangers as a matter of life and death. Wow. That we would be so selfless these days!
If I’m totally honest, I barely care for myself like this, much less a stranger.
I was actually reading this quote right at the moment I was in the midst of an opportunity to love not a stranger, but a friend, in my home helping care for my son, this way. I was convicted immediately because just a short time ago she had deceived me and let me down on a commitment she promised to fulfill. My first response was sadness, then anger and even revenge. Not to the extremes of TV shows, but just along the lines of backing out of a commitment I offered her. Then I read that quote above and in my heart I knew I was not serving her. I was not showing her the love of Christ.
I needed a lesson in love. And hospitality. And humility.
If we’re continuing in complete honesty, we use people for our selfish gains. I’m actually learning this right now in the marriage study our small group at church is doing. It asks us to consider if we “…love [our] little kingdom more than God’s big Kingdom.” And I know we do. I know I do.
Edie suggests that hospitality and humility are intertwined and I think she is right. In the book she says, “It’s called putting yourself in someone else’s shoes—-living in their skin. And that is the very humility and love that Christ demonstrates toward us. He is humility, in the flesh…Hospitality is learning to live toward others with His borrowed love, in His perfect humility.”
Gaining this new perspective on hospitality I encourage you to first consider your own motives, actions and thoughts toward others. Do you spend time building the kingdom of YOU? Or are you willing to put others first?
Because how can we feed the poor, care for the sick, give shelter to the homeless and love our neighbors if we are consumed with ourselves?
The answer is we can’t.
But God in us can. He must increase, but I must decrease.
When we let of our agenda, our motives, our selfishness, we open our hearts to receive and welcome others in so we can care for them, serve them and love them. And that my friends, is true hospitality.
I hope you continue this conversation by reading and commenting other perspectives on Christianity with my other Sisters in Spirit. Become part of the conversation:
Kelli is a United Methodist. She is a writer and public health advocate. An Arizona native, who recently returned home , Kelli lives with dog, Willie Nelson Mandela, who runs the show. She blogs at: www.africankelli.com
Sarah is municipal attorney, mom to a toddler boy, and United Methodist’s pastor’s wife. (She does not play the organ.) She is a life-long Missouri girl with a heart for hospitality and social justice. Sarah enjoys cooking, running, knitting and embroidery, reading, and playing in the sprinkler. Sarah blogs atwww.beautyschooldropout.net
Rhonda is an attorney and native of Missouri. She is known for being overly-emotionally invested in her three, elderly dogs and dabbling in a ridiculous amount of hobbies, including sewing, music, and writing, while mastering none. She was baptized in her late twenties and is amazed and grateful that Jesus continues to put up with her. She blogs at bigsnafu.com.