This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.
Our house sometimes feels like grand central station.
We constantly come and go, and have friends, family members, babysitters, and sometimes others coming and going as well. We have what might be called an open door policy: people are welcome at most hours of most days. We host people several times a week, at different times of day, in various states of “clean” or “put together”.
But what we’ve realized is that people don’t care about dirty floors or a sink full of dishes. Well, most of them, thank goodness. They don’t care that I’ve typically got at least one kid clad only in underwear. They don’t mind that we’re just getting home, or preparing to leave, or that it’s bedtime and we need to be absent for twenty or thirty minutes. What they do care about is that they can come, just as crazy, flustered and broken as we are, and be welcomed. They can walk in, throw off their burdens and their self-consciousness and just be with us. We try to hold off on judgements and even advice-giving, and just show love, acceptance, and grace.
There are two reasons we do this. First, it’s what I would want someone to do for me. For example, when I show up to church on Sunday and Thursday mornings, I have two or three kids in tow, as well as all my belongings I’ll need for a morning of worship and work. I’m packing breakfast and activities for the kiddos, backpacks, jackets, my iPad and purse, waters for all, coffee for survival and whatever junk I’ve already acquired onto myself for the morning. If I came into an environment of shame, I’d crumble immediately. There would be no way to survive the next few hours without a group of people who love me, and know my situation as well as my heart. I need their grace and acceptance as I attempt to lead them – while wrangling my children and their breakfast.
The second reason is that Christ calls us into a spirit of hospitality, acceptance, love, and grace. He calls us to open our hearts, minds, homes and lives to ministry of all types. Working in a church or on a predetermined mission field is not the only way to minister to the masses. Sometimes, living life alongside someone, not hiding your blemishes and flaws, and genuinely loving someone is a bigger testament to what I believe and whom I represent than if I were to force Scriptures or sermons on a stranger, trying to convince them I knew what I was talking about. (Nothing against evangelism with strangers – just presenting another kind of evangelism opportunity.)
Hospitality can feel, at times, like too much work. But just presenting an opportunity for relationship to happen, together with people who either need or want to be a part of the message that’s told by your life can make a huge impact on even the most unlikely guest.