Summary: The Power of Hospitality
The Power of Hospitality
Series: The Art of Neighboring
Brad Bailey – November 10th, 2013
Last week we began a new series for this month we’re calling “Rediscovering the Art of Neighboring”
As we recalled last week... Jesus says that the whole law of God could best be summarized by two great commands
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"Do this and you will live."
This is what we are to wrap our souls around...these two facets of life. As we consider the second....that of loving our neighbors...we are asking ourselves....what if we actually sought to follow the great command of Jesus to love our neighbors… our actual real neighbors?
> That challenge naturally begins with getting to know them.
So last week includes doing a little inventory using this neighborhood block map...in which the center block represents where you live...and the 8 blocks around it represent 8 of the neighbors that live closest to us.
As we consider loving our neighbors... we can begin with asking how well we know them by considering three things...first, their names...second, something you know about them from a conversation...and thirdly, do we know one of their greatest hopes, dreams, or fears.
> This captures the challenge we want to share as a community:
to begin to get to know our neighbors over the next few weeks...to take some steps towards knowing their names and more about them.
This is a challenge that I have felt stirred by myself. Leah and I have been challenged and stirred to break out of the limitations we seem to have become settled in. Recently I discovered through one neighbor that my neighbor just two doors down had cancer. A week later I saw chairs for a big party set up in their backyard…and my heart thought of Donna and Jay celebrating what might be a last anniversary party together. I discovered it was the reception following his funeral. The Lord stirred this calling to love my actual neighbors.
So last week began a call to begin to connect with those who actually live closest to you.
TESTIMONY: Laura Abbot
> Laura didn’t have an elaborate plan…she had a sincere prayer….an made some space. That is a prayer I would invite every one of us to take up.
The paradox of modern urban culture re connection; we have more means to connect yet people feel more estranged from those who are closest to us.
When it comes to where we really live….the place most people use to feel they belong…we feel a growing separation… and estrangement. There is a subtle underlying distrust…fear and separation.
God has an antidote to our separation. It’s called hospitality.
In our contemporary usage of the word "hospitality"… we may simply think of those who throw good parties....where the setting is elaborate and the food is amazing.
While that can reflect something about hospitality…but when we consider the life of Jesus… the centrality of gatherings… many of which were meals... let me ask us:
What was more powerful and prophetic in the way Jesus lived and shared life with others… the menu or the guest list?
(What was really significant in the way Jesus joined with others… the menu or the guest list?)
As we engage his choices… and the reactions… it becomes profound how significant was his choice of who was being joined together like family. > It is this that is at the root of hospitality.
Jesus used homes and meals to define and declare where God actually was… eating meals with peasants and prostitutes…which in early Jewish culture was the ultimate expression of fellowship…. and his choices were in such sharp contrast to the religious leaders.
Luke 5:27-29 (MSG)
Jesus went out and saw a man named Levi at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, "Come along with me." And he did—walked away from everything and went with him. Levi gave a large dinner at his home for Jesus. Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner.
This offended the religious leaders...because they knew that accepting an invitation to someone's home...and sharing in a meal implied they could be included in one's life.
Hospitality has the power to DEFINE relationship.
Jesus understood that it is in such hospitality that we communicate that “my life is not fundamentally or fully separated from yours" …"I will identify myself with you…” There is a basic level of inclusion in life. That is precisely why it was shocking and controversial to some… and life changing to others.
Seen again with Cornelius and Peter… Peter…one of the first disciples is called to a home of a Roman centurion…a Gentile. It became the defining moment for what God was doing. (Acts 10) Could Peter as a Jew enter this Gentiles home? Could this powerful Roman authority welcome what this Jewish man had to offer? God led Peer through those tensions and into that home…and the next day the whole family were welcomed into God’s family. The whole process was about Peter choosing to enter this home.