Day 10: We’re Commissioned To Reach Out Together – By Offering Hospitality

Point to Ponder: Open hearts lead to open homes
Verse to Remember: “Open your homes to each other without complaining.” — I Peter 4:9 (TEV)
Question to Consider: Have you had your neighbors into your home lately?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 10 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community.

Today’s devotional was very convicting for me, though in a slightly backwards sort of way. You see, Indian culture has always placed a high value of hospitality. The phrase “You must come home” (that is, come to our house for a meal) is a constant refrain when I visit India. Even as a college student, I’d periodically invite people over, even if only to share frozen pizza.

However, that very emphasis on hospitality has made it a burden, rather than a blessing. In that context, I really appreciated Rick’s contrast between formal “Entertaining” and loving “Hospitality”. My only complaint is that he pictured Entertaining as self-centered, with Hospitality as other-centered. In my case, at least, the pressure for “Entertaining” comes from a sense that it is what the -other- person expects. For example, a lot of people come to our house expecting to get an Indian meal — which is an awful lot of work compared to Western cooking! That tends to limit the number of people we’re willing/able to have over.

That said, Rick’s fundamental point is still valid: are we more concerned about what other people think of us, than how much we think of them? If we truly love people, we need to find a way to overcome both our internal fears and external pressures in order to make that connection. I was particular struck by Rick’s observation that true Christian hospitality, if consistently and widely practiced, could not only transform our neighborhoods, but “significantly alter the fabric of society.”

Prayer: Lord, have mercy on me, a selfish sinner. God, I desire to see you work your transforming power in our world, and in our neighborhood. But, I guess that work needs to start (but not end!) with me. Transform my heart, that I might be filled with a spirit of love, acceptance, and accessibility towards my neighbors. Continue to convict me of making self-directed choices, rather than being directed by you towards others. Help me to find a healthier model of hospitality, that can serve your purposes without burning out myself (or my wife). I humbly ask all of this in Jesus name, Amen.