I think that in today’s day and age there is one really needed and really radical spiritual gift. It’s not seen in a lot of places and it’s certainly undervalued in most places. And, it’s just this…hospitality.
Hospitality is the gift of opening up a space so that others feel safe, loved and valued. Read that sentence again. Because, isn’t that what our world needs? Isn’t that what our family, friends, neighbours and co-workers need? A safe place to feel loved and valued.
The gift of hospitality is used when we really welcome people into our lives without any preconditions or expectations. We simply welcome. And, I think if we want to change lives with Jesus, it begins with learning this gift and this art. Opening up our lives, homes and hearts to others with no expectations other than giving them a place to feel loved and valued.
To do this, though, is really difficult because it first requires us to be centred and whole in our own identities. If not, we try to make people into what we think they should be, rather than loving who they are. And, no one likes being changed.
Henri Nouwen puts it this way: “True hospitality is welcoming the stranger on her own terms. This kind of hospitality can only be offered by those who’ve found the center of their lives in their own hearts.”
So, how do we practice this really radical gift of hospitality? Well, I think the first step is to actually welcome the hospitality that Jesus has for us. Because He welcomes us as we are, and loves us right there and then. So, for some of us, before we take the step of opening up our hearts and homes to others (which we absolutely need to do!), perhaps the step for today is to just remind yourself that you are loved by God exactly as you are. He actually likes you, loves you and wants to be with you.
And, once this starts to shape who you are, you’ll be able to share that love with others. Once you accept that you are accepted by God, you can start accepting and loving others.
Of course, we all have unhealthy areas in our lives that need to change. I’m not saying those don’t exist. I’m saying that people want to be loved firstand that love changes people, not our judgment.
So, today, practice the radical gift of hospitality by welcoming someone in as they are or by allowing Jesus to welcome you as you are. Because that’s what our world needs and what I know I need.