Monday, September 22, 2008

Chelsey is the hostess of In "Other" Words Tuesday today. Please visit her at Joyfully Living for His Glory to see what she and the other ladies have to say on today's quote.

“Hospitality is becoming an almost forgotten Christian virtue in our style of life today… In the New Testament, however, hospitality was a distinctive mark of Christians and Christian communities.” ~Alexander Strauchfrom The Hospitality Commands~

One definition for hospitality, or philoxenia in greek, is love for strangers.

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." ~ Hebrews 13:2

I admit that I sometimes find it easier to have a love for strangers and show hospitality to them by giving through charity or food, mainly because I'm not as outgoing as you might think; in fact, I am quite the introvert. I shudder at the thought of opening my home and hosting parties or even Bible studies. Not because of the people, but because of a certain level of anxiety on my part. I know I shouldn't be anxious, but there it is. I am. (And since I am being truthful, I will say that I have had the most awful time with words today (I'm writing this Monday)! I think it's because of the At the Well post on the Words We Speak I wrote yesterday! The Enemy is after me. Him or my flesh. It's hard to know which.)

Getting back to hospitality, when I think of that word in New Testament terms, I think of believers offering a sacrifice of hospitality. Another greek word for hospitality is philoxenos - which means given to hospitality, lover of hospitality, use hospitality.

Based on the definitions given above, I've learned, or re-learned, that hospitality seems to come from a heart of love, it is a verb, and that we are commanded to be hospitable. After all, "philos", in greek, means, in part, friend, to be friendly to one, wish him well, a friend, an associate, he who associates familiarly with one, a companion..."

Friendliness was one of the trademarks of Christ. After all, before He was even known as Christ or performed His first miracle, He was invited to a wedding. (See John 2) Usually, unless you are family or a friend, you don't get invited to these things. Jesus was well-liked, thus invited. And He gave us many examples of hospitality.

After He was gone from earth and the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, the Christian church came together in a whirlwind of hospitality toward each other.

I love this story of the fellowship of believers told in Acts.

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." ~ Acts 2:42-47 (Emphasis, mine)

I especially love the result of the hospitality - daily the Lord added new Christians! Amen!

In what ways is hospitality becoming an almost forgotten virtue in our style of life today? I think we live in a more fast-paced society and tend to look out for ourselves and the needs of our families first. We say there are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a much can we really be expected to do? Times were admittedly slower back in the day.

Women didn't have to work outside the home, parents didn't spend weeknights and weekends practicing or traveling with team sports or other activities for children, and children were taught at home, not carted back and forth to school for the majority of the day. Not that all these things are bad - I'm just saying times seemed slower back then and life was led at a more leisurely pace. It just seems to me that there was more "time" to practice hospitality.

There were no major chain hotels for visitors to stay in as they traveled proclaiming the gospel of Christ. They relied on people to open their homes (and their hearts) up to them, and people had time to do that. They had very little to give in return. Paul worked for a living some of the places he went, relying not on others for his living, but paying his own way.

How can we get back the lost art of hospitality?

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." ~ 1 Peter 4:7-10

I think an abundance of love for others is needed. We need to keep our focus on Christ and live to serve Him by serving others. We need to not see hospitality as a burden and not grumble about. If God has gifted us with a special gift (speaking, hostessing (is that a word? you know what I mean), witnessing, etc.,) we are to use that gift to serve others faithfully. It's an extension of God's grace and love for us when we do.

Normally we don't give to receive, but Christ tells us when we do offer this form of hospitality we will receive an inheritance, a kingdom prepared for us since the creation of the world!

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " ~ Matthew 25:34-40

In offering hospitality, we serve the Lord our God! Hospitality is borne out of the love our Savior gave us. In showing hospitality to others, whether strangers or friends, we serve God.

I mentioned above that I was anxious about hospitality. I think I know why! I'm Martha! I get distracted.

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." ~ Luke 10:38-42

I would love to say that I am Mary. Indeed, I have said it before, because I'd rather be at God's feet, but through this quote and in reading Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver, I have found that I get distracted.

Got the handy lexicon on crosswalk running again and found that that could mean to be anxious, to be troubled with cares, to seek to promote one's interests, or disturb, trouble, to be troubled in mind, disquieted.

To seek to promote one's interests....could I be selfish? I pray not. Maybe for me that means wanting the house to be perfect, wanting the dog to behave (we don't have kids), and wanting the food to be great. Ouch! Nothing like a good dose of Scripture and the definition of greek words used in Scripture to make you feel convicted!

I will probably know more when I finish the book I mentioned above, and I look so forward to reading other's posts. Join Chelsey and visit the others who have participated in this meme, I beg! I need to learn more, not only from God, but from your examples!

Father, may I offer hospitality, which I am learning is an extension of love, to all - strangers and those who belong to the body of believers, in a way that is holy and pleasing to You. Help me to humble myself and put the needs of others before the desires and even the anxieties of my flesh. Make me into the extrovert you want me to be for You, Lord, so that in serving the least of the brothers, I will have served You. I truly want to honor You, Lord, and I know that in Scripture You tell us several times to "fear not" and to present our requests to You. Make me less anxious about opening up my home and help me continue to reach out to others through love. Love for them out of love for You. Change me, Lord, into "Mary".


Earthmommy said...

I'm the same way when it comes to hosting things in my home. I'm really shy too when it comes to real world encoutners. I ned to work on this though since I don't want my kids to get lonely just because I don't feel like being social.

Homesteader in Training said...

It's funny that you should post about this because I told my husband last week that I wanted to start having one couple over for dinner each week and so far we've done it. We had a couple over just last night. I love to entertain and for me not to do it just doesn't make sense. I admit that sometimes I worry to much about what they might thing about my cooking, dishes, etc. but I quickly get over it and just enjoy the fellowship.
Blessings my friend.

MiPa said...

Great post! Mary Heart is a great book. I'm sure you will continue to glean truths out of it. Thanks for sharing.

Chelsey said...

Laurie Ann -
I LOVED your post today - I especially love your vulnerability in sharing. See now, this is the downfall of the internet - you get to know folks and they live worlds away. If we were closer - I promise - I'd let ya try your hospitality out on me! :)

Seriously though - such wonderful, wonderful words of wisdom. Thank you, thank you for sharing today! :)

jamie in rose cottage said...

Great post, and wonderful choices of Scripture to share. Thanks as well for being so honest & open. I, too, used to have a really hard time opening my home, but I have found that the more I do it, the easier it becomes. {smile}

Karen said...

Hosting at home is not my gift either but hospitality spills over in more areas than that. Thanks for your honesty today and for sharing. Keep on smiling, right there is a big welcome sign for a lot of people :)

Anonymous said...

"We need to keep our focus on Christ and live to serve Him by serving others."

I really think that is the heart of hospitality. Many of us show hospitality in different ways, as you said we are all given different gifts in that capacity. I would venture to say that with the heart I have seen you show through your posts here you have shown much hospitality and are more of a Mary than you know :)

Joyfull said...

Thanks for sharing so openly. I also struggle with opening my home like that, but thankfully we can be open to be an extension of God's love. Thank you for a blessed prayer!

Patricia Warren said...

"In showing hospitality to others, whether strangers or friends, we serve God."

I think this is the best way to get over all the excuses. We must remember that we serve the Lord by serving others. Easy to say, harder to do. I've often said that the hardest thing to give is time. Seems like there's always something important that is time-consuming and needs dealt with. Sadly this puts hospitality low on the priority list.

Thanks, Laurie Ann, for reminding me of the real purpose of hospitality.

Susan said...

Hey Laurie Ann,

Once again I'm blessed by your heartfelt words. I must say by your wisdom too!

I didn't participate today, too much going on. I would of used that scripture in Acts that you used. (Act. 4:4)

The ultimate fellowship, breaking bread, communion!

I love when you said this:

"I think an abundance of love for others is needed. We need to keep our focus on Christ and live to serve Him by serving others"

Amen and Amen.


mamas*little*treasures said...

Good morning Laurie Ann - sorry I'm late getting around to all of the IOW blogs this week . . . . just wanted to thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. You are right . . . . years ago, when my older children were small, it seems that times were somehow slower, or for some reason it was easier to have people in our home. We did it often, even when we had a house full of small children. And since I'm really a "people person," that aspect of it doesn't make me anxious like it does for many others, but now it just feels like people are so much busier with all of the things you observed - traveling team sports, music lessons, homework that just never ends, PTA and other school functions - again, not that these things are bad, but they do tend to make our lives pretty hectic and leave little time for developing relationships even with our family members, much less with other community and church acquaintances or strangers. I actually approached a women yesterday when I went to the gym to workout, as I recognized her from the church we have recently started to attend (as we have only been in this area a few months) and introduced myself. She seemed a bit surprised but very pleased, because she said she kind of recognized me but wasn't sure where she had seen me. I told her we had been attending her church for a few weeks and that I just wanted to get to know her a bit, and she responded so positively! I guess I need to be on the lookout everyday for someone to reach out and touch . . . . because every new friend is truly a gift from God! Thanks for your great teaching style on your blog posts - I love it! Nina