As you know, if you have read my blog much recently, I have read Rosaria Butterfield’s book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. I plan to review some important topics that arose from the reading of the book.
Today’s topic is on hospitality. Of all the topics, this one is mentioned most often in her book from a variety of perspectives. The most surprising was the part I needed to learn about the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual) that I wasn’t aware of. It was a helpful piece of information.
How do we communicate our love for the LGBT community as people, when the rhetoric in the Christian community is so hostile and unloving?
But I’ll back up a bit. I have been concerned regarding the rhetoric used by Christians, even me, in regard to this community. The way we talk about them is not the way we talk about people and individuals, but rather about caricatures and stereotypical groups of people. In order to communicate on a meaningful level, we need to see them as individuals who are unique, bearing GOD’s image as all of us do.
Despite the Fall and the distortion and marring of GOD’s image in all of us, we see glimmers everywhere. As Rosaria painted a picture of her life before Christ, there was a very strong community life where all were included. No one was left out. In their LGBT community, there as a very strong sense of hospitality. One night a week, her home was open for discussion and conversation over a meal. Many friends came over. It was something to look forward to each week.
In their community, there was usually a home available each night like that. For people who have often been ostracized from their families, it was a need they felt strongly. The need for family, for community was a felt need. The people who came were not limited to those in the LGBT community. There were ties to others in the community they served through their particular interests in caring for animals and protecting them.
Even now, she says that much of what she learned about hospitality, she learned in the LGBT community and continues to use today. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of churches that use hospitality as a way to grow their church or grow the people in the church over time.
How often do we use hospitality as the early church did, to build relationships with friends? How often do we use hospitality to develop friendships of both christians and non- believers? Do we even know how to do relationships? Not all of us do.
Hospitality has been the center of the Church since the New Testament
Yet when we look back in the New Testament, hospitality was the backbone of the church! Often churches met in homes. They ministered to one another around meals. Look back in the Old Testament. Even there, hospitality was a huge part of life in the Jewish culture. There were no restaurants. It was a necessity as people traveled long distances. There were no phones or mail systems. If travelers came through, you fed them and cared for them. They couldn’t call ahead to let you know they were coming.
This is the essence of hospitality. It is feeding and caring for the needs of others. As Christians, we realize there is more to life than simply the physical, however. So our hospitality goes deeper, we would hope. It shows a lifestyle that although not perfect, is winsome. It is not argumentative, the primary trademark of the Christian life is a sacrificial life that puts the needs of others ahead of our own.the primary trademark of the Christian life is a sacrificial life that puts the needs of others first. Click To Tweet
Opening your home provides a window into your life…the way it is, not the way you wish it were!
It isn’t fake. It is real. It means my house doesn’t always look pristine. The children don’t always behave perfectly. It also means I’m not jumping on everything “wrong” the person says and correcting it!
It does mean I am listening to their heart. Where is their heart? How can I minister to them in their place of need? How can I encourage them? I will rarely know on the first or second visit with them. I will do more listening to their story or chatting and discussing life with them…finding common points of interest.
Often, their presence in a family that is not yelling at each other, is comforting and hopeful. Being treated with respect in all senses of the word is huge! We just need to be genuine, loving and serving. People are tired of dealing with people who always seem to have an agenda. They often feel manipulated.
So how do you find things to talk about?
If you are fearful about conversation, look up online for questions to help get the other person talking about themselves…then listen to their answers! These questions could work (not all), these questions are also nice and general as well as the following questions. As I said, not all of them will be appropriate for your needs.
One question I like that I didn’t see, is “Where were you/What was your life like when you were 10 years old?” The age can vary. It is especially interesting with older visitors who tell about their lives to younger children. But it can be very interesting to everyone as they get a taste of different periods in American history…or maybe another part of the world.