Jan

16

2013

Christina Fox|10:00 PM CT

Host Without Grumbling

Checking my e-mail, I see one from my husband that says, "I forgot to tell you, we need to host a welcome dinner for new visitors to our church."

To be honest, when I read the e-mail, I didn't jump up and down for joy. I didn't run to my collection of recipes and search for the perfect meal. No, admittedly, my heart sighed as I thought about the planning and details that lay ahead.

If you knew me, it may come as a surprise that hospitality doesn't come easy. We host many events, parties, Bible studies, play dates, and more at our house on a regular basis. Some of the visitors to my home probably think that I open my house in hospitality because I love it.

In reality, I open my house in hospitality, not because I love it, but as an act of obedience to God. In fact, I'm sure that 1 Peter 4:9 was written with me in mind: "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."

An introvert who's shy in large groups, I face parties and events in our home with anxiety. I dread the exhausting efforts at making small talk, not to mention all the cleaning before guests arrive and after they leave. Over the years of opening our house in hospitality, overwhelming thoughts have always flooded my mind. We don't have enough room. I'm not that good of a cook. I'm really bad at socializing.

Backdrop to a Greater Story

For most of us, when we think of hospitality we picture a clean home, perfectly set table, extravagant recipes, flickering candles, and all the rest. We look at the elegant pictures that cover our favorite magazines and think, My house will never look like that. We see our friend's Pinterest boards full of recipes and feel like failures because we are lousy cooks. We look at our dining table that seats four and wonder, Where would anyone sit?

But as I've learned over the years, the Bible looks at hospitality a bit differently. Hospitality in Scripture is a means to an end. Opening the doors of our home in hospitality is the means to inviting them into our lives and hearts. Sharing a loaf of bread with others across the dining table creates opportunities to share with others the Bread of Life.

The details of hospitality are the backdrop to the greater story taking place in our home.

Hospitality in Scripture plays an important role in the story of redemption. During Jesus' life, hospitality provided a place for him to teach. He also found rest and relaxation particularly in Peter's home. In the New Testament church, Christians opened their homes to encourage and meet the needs of other believers. Homes were also used to provide a meeting place for worship and teaching. Scripture encourages hospitality for meeting the needs of the lost and hurting, demonstrating to them the love of Christ.

Martha and Mary

If we focus on the details of hospitality we miss the real purpose behind it. In fact, when we only see those details, we might miss the heart of hospitality altogether. Remember Martha and Mary?

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)

Martha was focused so much on the details that she missed the reason why she was hosting guests — so that they might learn from Jesus. If scrubbing and cleaning becomes our focus, we might miss sharing the mess and dirtiness of our lives with others. If our greatest concern is wondering how a group of people will fit in our home, we'll miss the opportunity to make room in our hearts for people. If we worry about making the perfect meal to serve, we'll miss sharing with our guests the only food that satisfies.

Hospitality is an act of service that helps us share the love of Christ with others. God calls each of us to practice hospitality, whether it comes easy or not. And for those of us who hesitate for one reason or another, it becomes an act of obedience to our Savior who has opened his own home for us through his shed blood on the cross. How can we do any less than open our own hearts and homes to others?

Christina Fox is a licensed mental health counselor, coffee drinker, writer, and homeschooling mom, not necessarily in that order. She lives with her husband of 16 years and two boys in sunny South Florida. You can find her sharing her journey in faith at www.toshowthemjesus.com and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ToShowThemJesus.

  • http://www.whenyourise.com Desiré

    This is so good! I have the same excuses you do. Our home is too small, I'm not a great cook and my husband and I don't have the personalities to play "host" and make people feel welcome and comfortable. But you are so right, this is an opportunity to share the Bread of Life, both with unbelievers and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Thanks for the encouragement and challenge to obey Scripture in spite of how our feelings and excuses on the matter.

    • http://www.toshowthemjesus.com Christina

      It's hard to look beyond the details of feeding and hosting people and to the reason behind it but when I do, my heart softens and the details don't matter anymore. Thanks for the comment:)

  • http://www.redeemedreader.com emily@redeemedreader.com

    This is so hard and yet so true! Thanks for the exhortation to lay down my pride and love people with what I have, not what I wish I had.

    • http://www.toshowthemjesus.com Christina

      Folding chairs and paper plates go far in sharing the love of Christ with others:) Whatever He's gifted us with we are to share with others whether we have a little or a lot. Thanks for your thoughts, Emily!

  • http://kimlenon.wordpress.com Kim

    I loved this! It is a great reminder that it is about obedience and loving the Lord. Too many times I hear "thats not my gift" and you have shown that we are all called to hospitality.
    Thank you!

    • http://www.toshowthemjesus.com Christina

      It's not my gift:) Though I've learned and grown into it. The heart of hospitality is an extension of the call to share the gospel with the lost and to encourage believers through the gospel. Thanks for your thoughts, Kim.

  • http://lisatarplee.com Lisa Tarplee

    I can relate well to what you said. Its so hard to open up my home for fear of failure to have it perfect. But oh the blessing of relationships that happen when we do!

    • http://www.toshowthemjesus.com Christina

      The blessing of sweet fellowship is greater than the stress involved in the preparation. Thanks for visiting, Lisa!

  • mebswick

    So true! God will fit - we must not stress about being perfect.... we need to open what we have to HIM!

    definitely would have never guessed before i TRULY got to know you that you don't dig hostessing

    • http://www.toshowthemjesus.com Christina

      God does amazing things through our weaknesses doesn't he? Thanks for visiting!

  • http://simplystriving.wordpress.com Nikki

    Sadly, I get this...so much.
    Okay..time to make the call and have some people over! no more excuses!
    thank you!

    • http://www.toshowthemjesus.com Christina

      Blessings in your journey as you open your door and heart to share what God has given you. Thanks for stopping by here Nikki!

  • Pingback: Weekly Commentary (January 18, 2013) : A Modern Exile

  • http://theoldadam.com/ theoldadam

    "The Lord loves a cheerful giver".

    I guess that pretty much exposes us all.

  • Pingback: The Call to Show Hospitality | Ekklesia Men

  • Pingback: A La Carte (2.7.13) | familylifeatccc