Text: Isaiah 1:17, Psalm 68:4-6, John 14:15-18, 1 Timothy 5:3-16, James 1:27
The first day I met Gus, he screamed at me. I had lived a quiet life up until that point, and I had never heard screaming like this before. I myself have screamed at swim meets, at being tickled, while riding on roller coasters—but never like this.
Gus’s screams terrified me. His eyes were far away and unreasoning. It was like all the unknown in him rushed out of his mouth and straight at me. I wanted to run away from him and back to my quiet life.
But I couldn’t run 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?
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. So 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.
It scares me to love people who are unlike me, but it turns out, gospel love isn’t about me anyway. It is about Jesus and how He loves.
Hospitality is uncomfortable. There are people who make me want to run. I think, to a certain degree, we all like a quiet, settled life. I mean, it’s easier to remain comfy and contented with the people we’re used to than to engage with those we don’t know anything about. It can feel awkward, even risky, reaching out to those who are different, whose lives seem so dissimilar to our own.
This is the heart of hospitality: finding people on the margins and bringing them in. Remember in Psalm 68, David praises the Lord because He “sets the solitary in families” (v. 6). This extends well beyond adoption or caring for widows. God has given us so many ways to reach out to the solitary, those who’ve been deserted.
The first step to hospitality is obedience: bring people in. This obedience helps us form soup kitchens, deliver casseroles, care for widows and orphans, and invite people into our homes. But this is only the first step. Because once we have invited people in, we are called to love them as Christ has loved us.
In the Book of Zephaniah 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! We are called to imitate Christ, so we can’t just stop at going through the motions and serving folks soup once a year, or whenever it feels convenient. We are called to rejoice over others with singing; to love 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 teach us hospitality toward widows and orphans and all those on the margins—and not only hospitality, but love.