Text: 3 John 1:1-15, Romans 12:3-8, Romans 16:1-16
Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you.
- 3 John 1:5, NIV
The first day I met Gus he screamed at me. I had lived a quiet life up to that point, and I had never heard screaming like this. I have screamed on roller coasters, at being tickled, and at swim meets. But never like this.
Gus’s screams terrified me. His eyes were far away and unreasoning. It was like all the darkness in him rushed out of his giant mouth straight into me. I wanted to run away from him and back to my quiet life.
But I couldn’t because Gus was going to be my son, and the paperwork was already at the Embassy in Ethiopia. What was I going to do, chicken out because he’s loud?
Sister, if we were together and you cared to hear, I would tell you about our adoption of two baby boys from Africa, and how they scared the curse words out of me. They still scare the horse apples out of me sometimes. And I would tell you that God has been so gracious and redemptive in our lives. But that’s a long story. Let’s just talk about loving people we are afraid to love, people who maybe scare us because they come from such a different place.
Hospitality is uncomfortable. There are people who make me want to run. I think, to a certain degree, we all like a quiet life. Do you feel totally content with your two or three great friends, and just don’t need to reach out to every crazy lady you meet?
The trouble is, I am that crazy lady. And so are you. We are all on the margins sometimes.
This is the heart of hospitality: finding people on the margins and bringing them in.
Remember in Psalm 68:6, David praises the Lord because He “sets the solitary in families.” This extends well beyond adoption. God has given us so many ways to reach out to the solitary.
The first step to hospitality is obedience: bring people in. This obedience helps us form soup kitchens, care for widows, help orphans, and invite women that are TOO LOUD (or too quiet) into our homes.
But this is only the first step. My wise pastor, George Grant, shared this beautiful verse that tells me there must be a second step. Because once we have invited people in, we are called to love them. In Zephaniah 3 we see this exquisite mystery:
“He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
- Zephaniah 3:17
Our heavenly Father rejoices over us with singing! Pause here before we move on, and read it again: He will rejoice over us with singing.
We are called to imitate Christ, so we can’t just stop at going through the motions and serving folks soup once a year. We are called to rejoice over others with singing; to love them.
Sisters, to me this is the hardest part of hospitality. It’s possible to go through all the motions, but stop short of loving people and rejoicing over them.
Making this jump on our own is impossible. The only way to change our hearts is to submit them to Christ. Pray with me today that God would not only teach us hospitality, but teach us to truly love.