“Hospitality is a personal response to your own need to connect with other people. This need is at the core of what it means to be human. Your entire humanity, your identity itself, is wrapped up in your need to connect. The real question is not how dangerous the stranger is. The real question is how dangerous will I become if I don’t learn to be more open.”
31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality
I’ve been reading a book called “31 Days to a Heart of Hospitality.” While it has some inspiring, helpful and practical tips to help you make your home open and inviting to others, it really deals with our own heart, how God created a strong need inside our hearts for true human connection and also how it is a commandment from Him, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:8-9, New International Version
All humans crave to be known and loved. We have a deep need inside our hearts for close human connection. We are meant to “do life together”; to share our joys, struggles, ups and downs, our normal day-to-day experiences with each other. Instead, we’ve become quite accustomed to living very separate and isolated lives – turning to our screens, hiding behind the busyness of daily life and being too tired to welcome others in. Even those of us who have quite social and connected lives may still not be completely opening our hearts to the life-changing effects of true hospitality in the way God designed it for us.
To open our hearts to hospitality requires the very brave step of breaking down the barriers of selfishness, pride, the fear of being vulnerable or rejected; and being truly seen for who we are – warts and all! The good and ugly in our lives.
It also requires humility. When we don’t have humility, we don’t have any room in our hearts for others.
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less!” – C S Lewis
Our Father is the perfect example of hospitality. “He takes us into His own family, washes us clean in the waters of baptism and gives us a robe of righteousness. He prepares us a feast every Sunday at His table where He feeds us on the true body of blood of His Son, giving us life, forgiveness and salvation. He gives all this FREELY and makes us His own sons and daughters… After we’ve feasted on His riches, He says, ‘Go do likewise.’ Love your neighbor as yourself. Feed him, give him drink, clothe him and welcome him into your heart.”
Imagine having the courage to look outside of ourselves and our own lives and see our neighbours for who they really are, getting to know their hearts, the way God made them.
Who is our neighbour? Anyone we come across in life, including the people we’re closest to, our spouse and children, the ones who are sometimes the hardest to show a true heart of hospitality to.
“True hospitality sees the neighbour, without all the distinctions. He is the image bearer of God and we must honour him with all the love and respect with which we would honour the very presence of Christ in our midst. He is holy ground and if we will open ourselves to him, we will never be the same – because true hospitality is transforming.”
I love being able to open up my home to friends and family, serving them a meal, offering a comfy bed, making it all clean and inviting. But next time I do that, I’m going to pause and pray to my Father, the One who first showed love and hospitality to me. I’m going to ask Him to help me to put aside my agenda, my fears and doubts and to open my heart so that I can really see and know my neighbour. To show them God’s love. I will also try to remember that it doesn’t matter what my house is like, whether it’s old or new, spacious or tiny, a caravan, tent or palace, whether I have a meal fit for a king or the humble toastie….but that I, “…above all, be loving. This ties everything together perfectly” Colossians 3:14.
“My brothers, God called you to be free. But do not use your freedom as an excuse to do the things that please your sinful self. Serve each other with love. The whole law is made complete in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”
“Hospitality is not about inviting people into our perfect homes, but inviting them into our imperfect hearts.”