Hospitality. Hospitality is the fuel for community, and it is so near and dear to my heart. I’m so far from perfect in this area, but I truly long to use my home to show hospitality to others. I want to fling our doors open wide to people and say, come in, sit, stay a while. Let’s really get to know one another.
I’ve always loved the idea of hospitality. My favorite part of playing with Barbies when I was little? Decorating the Barbie house. Did you ever play the computer game Sims? I’d spend hours making the house and decorating the rooms. I’d never really play the actual game, I’d just start a new game so I could make a new house. I watched HGTV and decorating shows way before my friends enjoyed that sort of thing. I’d save Pottery Barn catalogs and write down ideas of how I would decorate a house in a composition notebook. I’ve always wanted to create a space that can be lived in and loved. For such a long time, I thought this was hospitality. Making pretty spaces for people to come and enjoy. Setting fancy tables, hosting fun parties, and having people enjoy coming to your house. I’m so glad I was wrong. That’s not hospitality.
Hospitality is so much more! True hospitality is being real, vulnerable, and truly allowing someone to enter into your home and your heart and share life with you. I love what Edi Wadsworth from the blog Life in Grace says, “Hospitality is not about inviting people into your perfect home, it’s about inviting them into your imperfect heart.”
In fact, it’s not even about your home at all. Hospitality is about laying aside our agenda and to-do lists and choosing instead to sit across from a friend, family member, or stranger and listen, share, and be present. Not perfect…present. The house can be a mess. You may not have a thing to feed them besides PB&J. But saying to someone come in- this is the real me, this is our real life- and welcoming them into that life with you is a beautiful, holy thing.
And you know what? It’s hard. It’s not easy to know the state of your house- the laundry piled high, dishes overflowing from the sink, 2 day old milk sitting in the sippy cup on the table and say to someone, “come in anyways”. I get it. I can talk about true hospitality all day long, but when it comes down to it, I still have those insecurities of people judging me and my mess and that will consume my thoughts instead of how I can be present with someone. I will sometimes be running around like a maniac Sunday afternoons before our small group trying to clean up the house. If I’m not careful, I can turn into mean snippy cleaning Mama getting ready for company to come over (picture this). (not condoning this comedian, but really, isn’t this just too true? It’s ok if you can relate too…I think we all can).
That’s not what we want our hearts and attitudes to be like as we welcome people in. Don’t apologize for the mess or the imperfections. Trust that your guests can relate and that they will feel even more welcome because you trust them enough to let them in. That’s the heart issue when it comes down to it, right? We don’t trust others enough to let them see the real us. We have too much pride to allow others to see our imperfections. But true community doesn’t happen when we are afraid to trust one another. True community happens when we let down our defenses and facades and truly be real with one another. Let’s resolve to open our doors wide, and let’s do it without the need for perfection.
So whom should you invite in? Anyone. Friends, a small group from church, a family member, a girl who needs a godly woman in her life, a missionary in need of a place to stay…saints, sinners, and strangers. Sometimes it can be scary to let someone in that you don’t know very well. I don’t know about you, but I’ve watched enough of those crime dramas on TV and I’ll just keep my doors shut tight, thank you very much. But is that the Jesus way of living?
Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
In the book Radical Hospitality it says, “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.”
Let’s dare to show radical hospitality. Invite someone you’re not close to or perhaps someone you don’t really know to share at your table. Open yourself up to God touching someone through you. Maybe you can reach someone far from God just by inviting them into your world and engaging in intentional conversation.
What should you do when they come? Look for ways to serve, ways to be real, ways to take off the masks we too often wear. Get to the heart of conversations, let people feel they can bare their souls and in those moments strangers become dear friends and true companions on this road of life. Remember that it is not about you. Think about- how can I be a blessing to this person? How can I meet a need? How can we have fun? How can we be real with one another?