You've probably never had your next door neighbor over for supper. I haven't. We live in a day and age where garage door openers allow people to leave and come home without stepping foot into their driveways, when automatic dripper systems water efficiently xeriscaped backyards and eliminate any need for pruning. With such low maintenance outside and so much digital and electronic entertainment inside, how could we have opportunity to know our neighbors? Just one pass through any popular home magazine and you'll discover that hospitality and having company over is no longer a casual family affair, but a rare and well-planned dinner party to which you invite the most deserving of friends. To demostrate just how deserving they are, the event is usually adorned with eccentric table settings, hors d'oeuvres, and personalized place cards. Though I don't believe the intention of these how-to magazines is to be pretentious, rarely do you find encouragement for the average family to be hospitable with a simple meal, a less-than-perfect home, and a casual feel of fellowship over impressiveness. My friend Gen, whose husband is from Mexico, embodies well the old adage: "Mi casa es su casa." This saying, my house is your house, is predicated upon the assumption that your house is where you feel at rest and free of formalities. You'd probably hesitate to adopt this motto if your guest was a sloth and didn't mind slurping spaghetti over the carpet. With that said, Gen allows her friends to be themselves and offers this warm sentiment just the same. She somehow manages to serve up a good meal blithely unaffected by the many children that run about, leaving a trail of toys and crumbs behind them. Even as the host she can engage her guests in meaningful conversations! She's not choosy about what kind of person she shows hospitality to...she just does it. Some may have fancier, more decadent living arrangements, but chandeliers and maid service could not make her home more inviting.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." (Hebrews 13:2) It causes me to question: Am I only hospitable with those that I love? Is my zeal to be hospitable affected by the response of the recipient? Do I consider hospitality in the light of God being glorified or me being glorified? These are sobering thoughts for me. Jesus said that those who are His will be told, "Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40) "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me." (Matthew 25:35-37) Is Christ not the motivation and the recipient of all glory when it comes to hospitality? Is there anyone, then, deemed unworthy of our graciousness and generosity? May this serve as just a little reminder for us to be intentionally hospitable, cheerfully serving, and prayerfully unanxious about spills and mess--and not being perfect. Mi casa es su casa, Christo Senor... "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20) My house is your house, Lord Jesus... "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:14, 16-19)
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