"A habit of hospitality is fundamental to our identity as Christians.
Our primary call is to live out the gospel;
a lifestyle of hospitality is part of that call.
For some of us, there will be a more particular call to a deliberate and focused expression of hospitality,
but for all of us hospitality is essential to who we are as followers of Christ."
I didn't like that quote the first time I read it. And, truth be told, I'm still not sure I'm a fan of it. It challenges me.
If I see hospitality as a spiritual gift . . . and one I don't have, then I'm off the hook. But, when I read this quote, I'm not off the hook.
Yes, some of us may have a special gift for it, but that doesn't mean the rest of us can ignore it. We all have a role to play as part of the church. We all have to be a part of it.
The more I think about this, the more I wonder if our problem with hospitality is that we think of it to narrowly.
How do You Define Hospitality?
What do you think of?
I think of having people over for a nice meal in a perfectly kept house. Or of the people who have the "job" of greeting people when they arrive at a church event.
But, what if that is only a small part of hospitality? And not even the most important part?
What if hospitality is something all of us can do no matter where we are?
The "life-style of hospitality" talked about in the quote - what is that?
Jesus' Life of Hospitality
Maybe we need to take a look at Jesus' life to see what hospitality is and should be. Jesus didn't invite people over for a meal in His perfectly decorated house - He didn't have a house. Jesus didn't stand at the door of the Temple just greeting everyone - He was too busy turning the religious world upside-down.
But, people wanted to be near Jesus. The sick wanted to get near enough to be healed. The outcasts of society were welcomed into Jesus' presence. The lowest of society were elevated by Jesus. The crowds wanted so much to be around Jesus that they would go great distances to be there to hear Him teach.
What Hospitality Really Is
If we broaden our definition of hospitality, we see that Jesus' whole life was about hospitality. Jesus "created safe and open spaces where friends and strangers experienced a welcoming spirit of respect, acceptance, and care." (Vantage Point 3, A Way of Life: Community with Others).
That's what hospitality is . . . creating a safe place for people around us. And that means it is something we should all be doing. We can't pass it off to those who have that spiritual gift any longer.
Some may have a special gift given to them by God for it and they should use it. But all of us should be living a life-style of hospitality. We're not off the hook. Hospitality should be the defining mark of all of us who claim to follow Christ.