Monday, September 13, 2010

The Other Side of Hospitality

When the word “hospitality” is mentioned, I immediately think about how I am going to make someone else feel welcome in my home. I was reminded recently, however, that there is another side to hospitality.

My friend Mike Young was the guest preacher at our church yesterday. His text was from Luke 10. Here is the portion that particularly caught my attention:

"When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.' If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.” (Luke 10:5-8, NIV)

Mike went on to talk about establishing a relationship with someone who is a stranger or who differs from us by accepting that which is set before us. In so doing, you are not only accepting the hospitality of that person, but you are accepting that individual as a person loved by God. Mike pointed out that if we hope to embody the Gospel, we must place ourselves on an equal footing with those who do not know the grace of God.

My mother and father taught young married adults in Sunday school when I was a teenager. They made it a point to visit in the homes of both class members and prospects. I remember my mother talking about one particular visit. They were sitting in the living room of the small apartment when the wife asked if my parents would like some refreshments. My mother followed the young woman into the kitchen. As she turned on the overhead light, cockroaches ran to find their hiding places. When the hostess picked up a plate of cookies off the table where the insects had been only a moment before, my mother took one and bit into it without hesitation. She put aside her misgivings to accept what was set before her, accepting the hospitality offered.

The practice of hospitality has two sides—it is both given and received. The manner in which we give hospitality and by which we receive it says a lot about our desire to build God-honoring relationships.

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