Hospitality, Friendship and God

There has been a groundswell of interest in our church lately for connecting with one’s neighbors in an authentic, useful way. This groundswell wraps three cords into one rope: the desire to live “outwardly” (you can find our “Outwards Living Plan” here); the desire to talk about God and his gospel in ways that are intelligent to the culture but do not dilute the truth; and “community”. These three intersect at hospitality. 

The writings of Rosaria Butterfield have moved me, and perhaps you (you can read her testimony here, and see her books here). You may have heard me mention her story in our class discussions. 

Hospitality features prominently in her story, because it afforded her sanctum to explore her questions. Her hosts moved at her pace, all the while still being “themselves” - Christians - in front of her. Thus she saw the husband confess sins and ask for forgiveness . . . she saw them pray . . . conversation and debate . . . give and take . . . questions . . . space . . . time.

Thus hospitality served for the growth of two other words: friendship and God.

Authentic friendship: reciprocity, and mutual respect of each other’s giftings. Real friendship authentically appreciates and humbly respects where the other is ahead of us in wisdom or skill, though they don’t know Christ. And it moves at the other’s pace. It wants the other’s flourishing. 

But the source of all flourishing, immediately and eternally, is God. To love another to bring them to God. Therefore, within that friendship, we are “ourselves”; we talk about God as we normally would, in front of, with, alongside our friend. We bring God into the conversation, not abruptly and awkwardly, but again, just “being ourselves”. There’s freedom in that. 

Hospitality, friendship, God. The goal is to see those three words combined somehow, in obedience of the Great Commandment, for love of God and neighbor. 

There will be future opportunities to talk more about this in our church, but a few questions:

Of those three words - Hospitality, Friendship and God - which are you strongest in? Which comes most naturally? Which one are you weakest in? For the one that is weak, who could you partner with, someone whose strength would complement your weakness? Perhaps a next step is to simply have a conversation with that person or couple, and pray together, about how you might work together to combine Hospitality, Frienship and God? And in a way that a) makes sense to you, b) comprehends the constraints on your life, and c) moves at the pace of the “slowest” person/spouse?