Yesterday I had the privilege of teaching in a Bible study class at church filled with people who are "more experienced" than myself. (It's the class my parents visit when they're in town.) The teachers graciously invited me to teach one of the lessons I'd written for BaptistWay published in this summer's curriculum. It was a lively discussion and very enjoyable for me. (I hope a majority of them felt the same!) The lesson was about Hospitality as a biblical mandate; and I'm happy to report the class showed me a great deal of it!
As I began the lesson, I showed Jerry two miniature pound cakes. One looked light and delicious; the other dark and unappetizing; both sprinkled with powdered sugar. I then asked him which one he'd like. Naturally, he pointed to the first. But my point was this: as the giver, I could choose to give him whichever I wanted, regardless of his preference. Hospitality, in the biblical sense, chooses to give the best, the preferred, to the other person, meeting his/her needs. We mentioned various examples of hospitality throughout Scripture: God's provision of everything they needed for Adam and Eve; God's offer to the Israelites of a land which flowed with milk and honey; God's law that provided for Ruth to glean in Boaz's field; Jesus' teachings and example of humble service; even God's provision for our eternity in heaven - everything we'll ever need in grand style! As I consider it now, the Gospel story itself and the act of sharing it with others are probably the two greatest hospitable demonstrations of all!
Writing that lesson, and now teaching it, have further challenged my perceptions of my own practices of hospitality. I've been "weighed in the balance and found wanting," to quote Daniel. I too often find excuses of finances, time or well-being to exert the energy and effort it takes to show hospitality - and I don't just mean throwing a party. Hospitality, first and foremost, is a state of mind - an attitude of welcome that communicates to those around you that they are valuable and desired. That's what God demonstrates through Jesus' sacrifice-his desire for us. It then manifests itself through action - striving to meet the greatest need of the person in your path: emotionally, physically or spiritually. When we express the message of saving hope to others, we express our desire for them to be with us for eternity! While I have moments of "success," in this area of hospitality, I still have so far to go.
The discussion branched off a couple of times into an examination of political law and practice, particularly regarding immigration issues, which, to be honest, I was totally unprepared for. In fact, in my naivete and general avoidance of politics, I didn't even see it coming. What I wish I'd said (you know, in those brilliant conversations you have on the way home in the car), to divert that road mine, was while political immigration issues are certainly of importance, our focus for the day was to be an examination of self - how I am practicing hospitality in daily life. Oh, well. Maybe someone, somewhere in the room grasped that concept!
The funniest moment of all came after the majority left the room. One sweet lady walked up to where I was standing with the mini-pound cakes and marveled at why Jerry had picked the one he did. After all, she'd "pick chocolate every time!" I laughed, and holding it up for her see, said, "It's not chocolate. It's burned." I think there may be a future devotional [or illustration] in that somewhere.
Scottish Warrior Princess: AOIFE
1 day ago