I always thought hospitality was easy. Well, duh. It’s in the Bible. Be hospitable. Open up your homes. So easy. Why are we stuck not doing. It only requires making a bed, and opening up a door with a smile on my face and serving dinner (which I do anyways). Right?
The reason that I have always though hospitality was easy is because of how much I have been exposed to it in my life. Let’s begin with my own home growing up. If you were white and in town, you came over to our house. No debate. No warning. That’s just how it was. And my mother always took it in stride. Always. Then we moved to a bigger city, where white people were more common, so we didn’t have every single white person over for dinner. But then my parents new ministry was basically a ministry of hospitality. So any newcomer with the mission would come over to our house for dinner. Or the night. Or the week. I can remember very few Christmases when it was JUST my immediate family. Usually it was whoever didn’t have a family. We just shared some family love.
One the other hand, my exposure to hospitality comes with being a missionary kid. When we were on home assignment, we traveled all over the country. I don’t ever remember staying at a hotel- we always stayed at someone’s house. And they always seemed delighted to have us.
It never seemed like hospitality was that big of a deal. All those people made it seem so easy. So normal.
This weekend, our church hosted a group of international students from a university. They asked church members to sign up to house at least two people for the weekend. We jumped right on board.
Remember how I thought this whole thing was easy?
Well, let me tell you. Opening up my home meant a whole lot more than cleaning the bathroom, baking a cake, putting out clean towels and throwing open the door with a smile on my face.
It actually meant opening up my heart, too.
It kind of meant exposing some messes.
It kind of meant being real. And being real is always scary. Because I’d rather have you see my beautiful wreath on the door, my carefully mowed lawn and my smiling face at the door than let you have my bed. And my guest bed. And my bathroom.
Having guests in my home meant sleeping on the pull-out couch. It meant sharing a bathroom with three other men, instead of just the usual one. It meant apologizing profusely when my cat puked all over the place (yes, he puked. Why? Because he ate a ribbon. A RIBBON. A PINK RIBBON THAT WAS FULLY OBVIOUS IN THE PUKE. IN FRONT OF MY GUESTS.) It meant keeping the conversation going instead of just turning on Netflix. It meant trying to cook a meal to perfection and holding back the tears when the bacon burnt. It meant so many things, but you want to know the most important thing that it meant?
It meant that we care.
It meant that we are real. Real humans. Real Americans. Real Christians.
Because when we are real, that is when we become see-through. Our guests see through me and can catch that glimpse of Jesus.
Because if everything is perfect, they are are looking at me, and not Christ.
So guess what? We aren’t perfect. My carpet has stains (mostly from my pukey cat). My bacon gets burnt. My dishes don’t wash themselves. My bathtub has rust stains. And I don’t have air conditioning.
But I have Jesus.
And that is what is seen when I open my home. I’m not seen. My messes are seen, my imperfections are seen. My life is seen.
And the rest is just up to God.
And boy, does He do a mighty work.
P.S. I’m not the only one to blog about this. Check out this blog for a similar rendition of the hospitality issue.
Along with all this deep thinking, the weekend was also fantastic. We hosted two Chinese graduate students, and we were encouraged to let them see what an American household is like. Sooo, of course….we played some games, I made some hamburgers and hot dogs, and we had some cake. We also had pancakes and coffee for breakfast one morning, and eggs and bacon for breakfast the next. We also took them bowling, and it was their first time. We had a blast, although the bowling pins kept getting knocked over before we could bowl. This just gave us some extra points, though =) Along with all the activities that they did with us, they were also able to go on a bike ride, get ice cream and go mini golfing with the church. They said they had a blast.
So did we.