An introduction to hospitality


My grandmother breathes hospitality in and out all day long. Preparing and serving food for others gives her purpose and happiness. She brings people together, no matter their background, around a common table. I have and continue to learn a lot from her. She inspires me to wonder, dream and imagine what hospitality is and why I, and people in general, struggle with the concept.

In his book "Reaching Out", Henri J.M. Nouwen says, "Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines." By this definition, hospitality can take place anywhere, not just in the home.

If hospitality is leaving room to grow and explore, to love first and not judge; then what would it look like to be hospitable in every area of life? What would hospitality in the workplace look like? Or in your marriage? Or in a mere conversation?

I have had numerous conversations with people who are not Christian who have said, in some shape or form, churches have not left space for them to know and understand Jesus. While difficult to hear, it may be worth taking note of and asking: Am I a hospitable host of God's Kingdom? What room am I leaving for people to discover Jesus? What does that even look like?

Jesus is the ultimate example of hospitality lived out. He asked a group of men to leave their careers and families in order to follow Him. They had no idea who this guy was or what they were in for. But Jesus allowed them to belong to a group of disciples before they believed. For one follower in particular, it even took putting his hands in Jesus' nail-pierced hands to decide to believe. Jesus left space for discovery. Do we?

What would the church look like if we allowed people to belong before they believed? What if the church had just as many people on a journey to believe in Jesus as they do believers? How would the church respond to a staunch atheist being an active participant of their congregation? Maybe it would be chaos. But maybe, just maybe, it could be divine. This has been an interesting concept for me to think on. I hope you will too.
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