I grew up in a home that was always open. We had little family close by, so our church family became our family, and there was always a crowd, a party, or a gathering at our home. I loved it then, and I love it now. I love the conversation, the “doing life” together, the offering of my home to others. I even enjoy the aftermath – there is something about the unwinding after a full house that feeds my soul. I suppose I reflect back to helping my mom clean up after parties – we would talk and share about our interactions that evening, reflecting upon the people that filled our home and evening.
These feelings have carried over into my own family. We love having people join us for dinner, to enter into our crazy and full little world. I love sharing my family and my home with others. Our kids often ask, “Is anyone coming over tonight?” which speaks to me of the expectation and excitement they feel to welcome people into our home.
I guess that because this is almost second nature to me, I was encouraged greatly upon recently reading through Romans. Chapter 12 has a section that is titled “Marks of a True Christian” – this is what it says:
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21)
Do you see it in there? Tucked right into verse 13? “…seek to show hospitality.” It had never occurred to me that we do this as a “mark of Christianity.”
I then started to contemplate the times when we had plans on the calendar and I wasn’t in the mood. It is not always convenient to open our front door. Many times it collides with stress, busyness, weariness, or selfishness. However, I have found that when people walk in our front door, it comes with the sweet breath of God. I feel rejuvenated, refreshed. My perspective often shifts off of me when I rise above my mood or my circumstance to serve those who have entered my home.
I believe we are called to show hospitality for many reasons. Primarily, to build relationships. Our God is One of relationships. Consider how many people have come to Christ through an authentic relationship with a Jesus follower. Also, it is to show ourselves authentic. It is hard for me to pretend to be perfect when you are sitting at my scratched-up dining table with my loud and boisterous kids who may or may not behave, eating dinner that may or may not taste like I envisioned. But that is reality. This is real life, and this is being authentic. We show people love by making room in our lives for them. When someone invites me into their home, I feel wanted, loved, cared for.
From the perspective of the “recovering perfectionist” – if you are the type of person that struggles because you see all of the flaws in your home/cooking/family, I encourage you to reflect upon this simple truth I try to live by: I’ve never felt better after spending time with someone I felt was perfect. Instead, when I am allowed to see another’s reality is when I can find joy and freedom to be me, with all of my own faults and weaknesses. Being authentic, which is what we are called to be as Christians, lets us lay aside the pretenses and attempts at perfection, and be who we are in Christ. There is a beautiful truth about being real with who you are, as sin-filled and depraved as that might be, and yet secure in our Father’s immeasurable love. I have found that there is sweet community to experience when we open our lives and homes to those around us. It may not always be easy, and that is where Romans 12 can come in – reminding us of what we are called to as Christians. The fact that 1 Peter 4:9 calls us to be hospitable without complaining shows me that I am not the only one that needs to be reminded that it is a gift we are called to give!!
Victory also wrote on being a “recovering perfectionist” in her article “Life is Messy”. Was there a time someone let you into their messy and you were blessed because of it? Share with us in the comments below why that impacted you.