Nov 10, 2014

a Heart for Hospitality


I recently finished the She Reads Truth study on Hospitality.  It amazes me how God can start working in my heart for something and then suddenly the dots just connect. I’ve been struggling with our home and inviting of friends & family. I feel like it’s never perfect enough. It’s never clean enough. Never well furnished or well decorated enough. I could never plan enough, cook enough, or do enough to make it perfect enough. In the midst of all this fretting over my inexperience with lavish dinner parties, I’ve been stumbling across blog posts and articles discussing the true meaning of hospitality, the positive act of inviting people into our mess, and the idea that your home does not have to be Pinterest worthy to invite people in.

As the holidays approach (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years) I think the pressure on us increases to be the best hostess, have a perfectly decorated house, and to cook the best meal (made from scratch, of course). But all of that is nonsense. As a society, we’ve set impossible standards for both ourselves and our hosts. Not every gathering needs to look like something out of Southern Wedding magazine. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the magazine, or even Pinterest, but we have to stop putting more emphasis on the décor and the dinner than the people sitting around our table. You are not going to change someone’s life by making the best apple pie, but inviting them to sit at your table gives you the chance to make them feel different by the time they leave. I thought I would share some of my take aways from the Hospitality study, although I highly recommend reading it yourself.

We need to shift our perspective.
My idea of hospitality has been something out of a magazine. Something that I imagine happening one day when my house is perfect and my life is no longer insanely busy. One day when my cooking skills have improved and I never go a day without vacuuming up the dog hair. But that perspective has to change. That day will likely never come. Perfect is an impossible standard. We need to shift to the perspective of caring more about the people than the preparation (read Luke 10:38-42). Hospitality is about loving others. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

Hospitality is about relationships.
Jesus is within us. His love is in us. And it’s our calling to pour that love back into others. The root of hospitality is to develop relationships with both those known to us and those that are not. “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 True hospitality is inviting people in for a friendship and accepting them as they are. Jesus accepts us as we are, so we should accept others in the same way. We need to connect with them, talk with them, be vulnerable and share our lives with them. Every person that enters our house should leave feeling important. And that kind of value will not come from a meal, but from a relationship.

Hospitality brings healing.
The study shares many stories in the Bible where a person delivered true hospitality and a great healing took place as a result. A healing for the hosts. The truth is we are all broken and we are all a mess on the inside. Reaching out to others and loving them in their circumstances can bring out blessings. In Matthew 25:31-46 God tells us that whatever we have done for the least of these, we have done for Him. Inviting someone in to your mess, into your brokenness, is humbling and may heal you in ways you can’t even imagine. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:13

Hospitality is living out the Gospel.
Jesus is the ultimate inviter. He invites us to an entirely new life with him. He invites us to salvation. Inviting others in, to sit at our table, is a mirroring of the Gospel. If we are living a life with Christ, then we are called to invite others to the Gospel. To invite them to our Savior’s table.

We love because he so loved us. We give because he so gave to us. We invite because he invited us.

My prayer.
Father, please continue to change my heart for hospitality.  To change my perspective and place the importance on the people sitting around my table rather than the meal prepared for them.  Help me to be vulnerable and invite people into my mess.  To be real.  Please help me to do away with the doubt that this house isn't fit for dinner parties because I desire a house fit for welcoming people.  I pray that this house would have many new footprints in the days ahead.  That the people sitting in my kitchen chairs would leave this house feeling refreshed, blessed, and important.  I pray that you would begin working in the hearts that will cross this threshold.  I pray for a heart of true hospitality for myself and for my household.  That we would serve others, love others, and bear the burdens of others.  Please help me to love others as you love me.

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