Monday, December 7, 2009

One Another- Hospitality part five

Hey there! Today we wrap up the last of four characteristics that our hospitality-oriented "one another's" (greeting one another; washing one another's feet; waiting for one another) all demonstrate.

And of course, it all comes down to kickball.

Okay, maybe not just kickball. It could be just about any game/sport that happens between teams on a playground.

You know the drill. There can't be teams until we pick them. So let's do this old school, and imagine that we're all standing around waiting to be picked. Okay, here come the captains. They're looking out at all of us now, scanning the crowd. They decide who gets to go first, and that captain chooses...

So, how are you feeling? Excited? Impatient? Nauseous? Come on, we're just picking teams. What's the big deal?

Well, if your elementary experience was anything like mine, it was a very big deal. Getting picked in one of the first couple of spots meant one of two things: 1- you were very good at the game about to be played, or 2-you were good buddies with one of the captains. In grade school, either one of these was like the holy grail, because at that moment, you were important.

I'm sure glad that doesn't matter once you get older...

There's certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be good at something, nor is there anything wrong with being a good friend. And those things will sometimes create for us an elevated status; you may very well be recognized or identified for who you are in one of these areas. But understand that the pursuit of status for status' sake is the enemy of hospitality, because hospitality creates equality.

During the three years that Jesus had His public ministry, the inner circle of His followers—those we know as the apostles—had an ongoing squabble over who among them was the greatest. As we talked about in the "love one another" posts, it even showed up during His final meal with them. In the midst of this pettiness, it must have made quite an impact to see Jesus quietly get up, take off his outer cloak and get to work washing the road filth off the feet of the disciples. The lesson is clear: what right of superiority could we possibly claim after witnessing the Son of God take on the task the was to be performed by the lowest servant?

Authentic hospitality says, "I'm not better than you."

And it looks like this: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." -Galatians 3:28-29

In light of this common pattern, it is easy to see why Peter’s instruction ("Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling") is important for us to take to heart. It is impossible to sincerely communicate these four characteristics of hospitality if our attitude communicates something different. Luke chapter 7 contains a story that is probably the best possible example of this, and as we wind down, I’d like you to read it:

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner."

Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you."
"Tell me, teacher," he said.

"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"

Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." -Luke 7:36-47

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." -John 13:35

When we love much, freely offering hospitality to one another is natural. Because that kind of love comes from understanding that we have been forgiven MUCH. And no expense has been spared to purchase that forgiveness.

But the symbol for this kind of hospitality isn’t the pineapple.

It’s the cross.

In Him we live,


Saturday, December 5, 2009

One Another- Hospitality part four

Hi! Thanks for stopping in!

We've been talking about authentic hospitality this week, and I wanted to finish up today, but I think we need to let each of our four characteristics have their own post. So, if you can hang in there a little longer we'll cover them all!

The third characteristic that each of these actions (greeting one another; washing one another's feet; waiting for one another) demonstrates is affiliation. I got an up-close lesson in the all-around awesomeness of affiliation earlier this week.

Our family was driving back from meeting some friends for dinner on Wednesday, and my youngest daughter said, "I'd like to take a walk when we get home." My wife and my oldest daughter each had a couple of things they needed to get done, so it ended up being just the two of us heading back out into the wonderfully chilly evening. It was already dark, so the houses with Christmas lights were glowing like beacons on each street.

We stepped to the sidewalk and started on our way, when a remarkable thing happened. She reached out and grabbed my hand and held on for the entire walk. For those of you who don't know us well, I should mention that my youngest daughter is twelve. That's the age when you begin to walk a few steps ahead or behind your parents because, well, they're your parents. We wandered up and down several streets, stopped at a couple of houses with impressive displays, and talked about anything she wanted to talk about. There wasn't an agenda; we were just enjoying being together as family.

It was an amazing walk, and it reminded me how important affiliation is to the "one another-ness" of hospitality. Essentially her actions said, "I want to be associated with you," and that sentiment reminds me of Paul's words in Galatians 3:26-27 when he says, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."

Authentic hospitality is wonderful in part because it gives us the opportunity to simply enjoy being God's family.

It's life together!

In Him we live,


Thursday, December 3, 2009

One Another- Hospitality part three

Hi there!

Another day out and about. I'm starting to feel pretty tired, but we're on a roll with hospitality, so let's keep it going!

The second characteristic that each of these actions (greeting one another; washing one another's feet; waiting for one another) communicates is commitment.

In the culture of the first century, greeting was a commitment. Unlike today, when you can shout a “how’s it going?” from across a room and then get back to what you’re doing, if you saw someone in the marketplace or in town as you were going about your day, the decision to greet them was going to involve both time and proximity. We’re talking about physically going to where that person is, just so you could embrace them and engage them.

That may be particularly troubling for us to think about, because our society is so very time-conscious. How many of us in the last couple of weeks were (at least) tempted to cut through a parking lot instead of waiting through a long line of traffic to turn right at a stoplight, because we knew it would save 3 minutes?

OR, over the last few weeks have you put something in the microwave, turned it on, and then found yourself standing there wishing it would hurry up? “Sheesh, four minutes to cook this? And now I’m supposed to let it stand for a minute? Bump that, I’ll risk the 3rd degree burns.”

In a world that seems to thrive more and more on busy-ness, authentic hospitality says "I have time for you," and it looks a lot like this:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. -Matthew 25:35-36

Authentic hospitality can wreak havoc on your schedule and wreck a to-do list.

But that kind of commitment to one another trumps busy-ness.

See you tomorrow!

In Him we live,


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One Another- Hospitality part two

Hey there! I've been out keyboard shopping most of the day for C3 (but we finally got one!)- I know this is late, but here we go:

If you tuned in Tuesday, we were asking
“Why greet one another?” “Why wash one another’s feet?” “Why wait for one another?” Interestingly enough (to me at least), each of these instructions demonstrate four common characteristics that teach us about hospitality.

The first characteristic that each of these actions communicates is priority. Authentic hospitality says "You're important to me," and it looks like this:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. -Romans 12:9-13

The best story I've ever heard that drives this idea home comes from the preacher and master story teller, Fred Craddock. Here's what he experienced, in his words:

I preached four nights in a church in Atlanta, a nice, big church with a good crowd, more than I'm used to. There was a moment in the service which the pastor said, "We'll now have our moments of fellowship. Greet each other in Christian love," and you never saw such hugging and carrying on in your life — people going across the room, and up and down the aisles, and grabbing and hugging. Somebody came up to me — I was down behind the pulpit — and gave me a big smack. It was just really something. Finally he said, "All right, hold it, hold it. We have to get on with the worship." Four nights of that.
The last night, he and his wife took me and my wife out to coffee. He said "Did you ever see such a family church? Did you ever see such love in your life in a church?"
My wife said, "Yeah, well, yeah, I have."
He said, "What do you mean?"
She said, "I was there for all four services, and nobody ever spoke to me."
And do you know what he said?
He said, "Well, that was because they didn't know who you were."

Wow. Reaching out to people we don't know (or don't know well) really can be difficult; it takes courage. But it seems to me that if we are only willing to say "you're important to me" to a select group, then it’s not really hospitality- it’s favoritism.

Most of us lead pretty demanding lives. Will you dare to make "one another" a priority?

I'll pick up the next one tomorrow- hope you'll join me!

In Him we live,