I hope many of you have found some refreshment and some refinement through the discipline you’ve added to (or the poor habit you’ve subtracted from) your life routine. If you have, let’s keep going! If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present. Jump on board for the last 3 weeks before Easter, April 5th!
I’m reading two of the books we recommended. I commented on Keller yesterday, and today I wanted to copy some text from Smith’s Good & Beautiful Life. It’s a call to the heart-changing practice of hospitality.
Living in the kingdom of God involves loving others, because our King is a God of love. Living in the kingdom of God involves forgiving others, because our King is a God of forgiveness. In the same manner, living in the kingdom of God involves hospitality-inviting and including others-because our King is a God of hospitality.
Practicing hospitality makes us vulnerable, and this is why we refrain from it. As long as I spend time with people I know, people who are like me, I feel relatively safe. But if I open myself or my home to someone outside of my comfort zone, I may encounter something I do not like. This does not mean that we put ourselves in situations of risk:
“Opening yourselves to the stranger is not equivalent to leaving your door unlocked and bringing strangers into your home. Hospitality does not mean you ignore obvious threats to personal safety.”
That said, we will still likely feel a bit uncomfortable. When we open ourselves to someone else we become vulnerable: What if they reject my hospitality? What if the situation becomes awkward? Knowing this is going to happen will help alleviate those fears. Simply remind yourself that feeling a bit uncomfortable is normal. Once you do it a few times, those fears will diminish.
Try to do two or three of the following suggestions this week.
• Reach out to someone outside of your comfort zone. Ask if they want to have coffee or go out for lunch. This might be a coworker you seldom connect with or someone who has few friends. Intentionally connect with someone who is different. Who might that be?
She is the liberal if I am conservative, and rich if I am poor. He is the guy who does not go to the same places I go, the family that does not worship where I worship or shop where I shop. The other is the person from the neighborhood I avoid; the guy I don’t want sitting next to me on the plane.
If you feel uncomfortable stretching this much, then back off a bit and connect in small ways with someone you have never met.
• Listen to people. Become aware of the people around you and become a great listener.
• Be a “preparer.” Preparing involves doing small things that show you care for other people.
You prepare for others when you plan a quiet time with your child, when you set candles on the dinner table, when you shovel your sidewalk, or trim the tree away from the street sign. These are ways of preparing to receive others-in other words, through these activities you prepare a table for others. When we are preparing a table, we are also preparing ourselves.
My wife is great at this. When people come to our home, she does little things (candles, special appetizers, nice table settings) that communicate “You are welcome here.” She never has to say it; her preparation speaks loud and clear.
• Pay attention to the people you love: “You can put down the phone and listen to your coworker talk for a minute. You can shut off the radio and play checkers with your child…. How much do people matter? How important is it to make room for others?”
• Welcome others into your “group.” Quite often we spend time in cliques, our usual group of friends at work or in our personal life. And there are others who would like to spend time with you and your friends but feel uninvited. This week invite them!