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,


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