My mother was horrified when I said, “I don’t like having people over. Especially when they stay the night. I dread it.” She couldn’t believe it. My mother built a five bedroom house just so people could stay over. She has enough fine china and spare folding chairs to host the masses. Everyone is welcome at my mother’s house.
Once I said the words out loud it was as though I’d given myself permission to live them out. Aside from a select close circle of friends and family, I nearly lost my mind every time my husband and I were scheduled to host people. I’d pick fights with him and be an absolute terror leading up to the day our company was scheduled to arrive.
In my time with God, I’d often read about His desire for us to be hospitable. 1 Peter 4: 4 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Ha! This train of thought always followed: God knows I’m an introvert (he made me that way!), so the verses on hospitality don’t apply to me.
Joke’s on me.
“He said also to the man who had invited him, ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.’” Luke 14:12-14
Me writing a column on being hospitable feels a bit like me writing about gardening; I am the world’s least most expert. Yet, God brought me this word in recent months and started pushing on my heart. In His challenge to me was the gentle promise, as always: “Commit your ways to me and I will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn.”
When God tells us about hospitality, I don’t think He’s imploring us to have enough fancy china for everyone we’ve invited. I don’t think He’s saying we must have people over or be the hostess (host) with the mostest (most). He’s asking us to make people feel welcome. He wants us to say hello to a stranger, smile at the new guy, or hold open the door. He wants us to seek out the people who are “different”; break bread with the least of these. He wants us to give people a sense of belonging in every way we encounter them.
The thing about God’s kingdom is its unconditional acceptance of all His people. God meets us, the least of these, right where we are and welcomes us to His table. We can come dirty, broken and empty handed. He pulls us into His arms when we’re crying and laughs with us when we’re joyful. God’s house is the most at-home place we will ever feel. His casa es su casa.
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34
In recent months, I’ve practiced hospitality in little and big ways. Sometimes it’s simply inviting a friend and her kids over for takeout pizza on a Monday night (dirty house, don’t care). Many times, I’m simply more conscious about the way I invite someone into my office or answer the phone. My husband and I even hosted a birthday party for my mom and our son; more like a birthday weekend complete with houseguests, our best china, and not one single meltdown on my part.
When God asked me to do this, He simply asked for my agreement. When I agreed, He softened my discomfort. He lengthened my patience. But most of all, He’s made my rewards shine like the dawn as promised. I’ve been the great beneficiary of a gift where I’d only expected to be drained. The joy of hosting in small and big ways has shown me the joy of His love.
Joke’s on me.
Chelsea Rosty, a Grand Junction native, is a Univ. of Wyoming alum in Marketing and Economics (to say nothing of being on the university Rodeo Team). She is Director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose. She serves on several local nonprofits and does Crossfit in addition to her duties as a wife and mother of one. She is active at Grace Community Church.