HOSPITALITY: ENDING DISCRIMINATION THE JESUS WAY
Ugly discrimination is a concept that has been around since the beginning of the human race outside the Garden of Eden. It is in no way limited to white, male, Westerners. It is a self-centered concept of: “me versus someone else and I need to come out on top.” That pretty much describes any kind of bullying doesn’t it?
This sad model of societal interaction happens with race, religion, socio-economic status (haves and have-nots), body types, male vs. female, beauty, renters vs. owners, power, might, intellect, personality types, abuse or even “my dad is better than your dad”; and on, and on it goes. It happens at every relational level of society and more often than not it is the innocent and powerless who suffer as a result. Throughout human history mankind has sadly found many ways to use our differences to feel we are superior to the person next to us with devastating and tragic results.
But feeling superior is a very short-lived pleasure; and once the immediate self-satisfaction dissipates, we need another fix and have to look for another person we can bully, shame, intimidate or misuse. So what do we as Christians do?
How Did Jesus Encounter Different People?
The wealthy tax collector – Zacchaeus: Jesus ate with him and spent time with him – Luke 19:1-10
Outcast Samaritan Woman at the well: Jesus spoke to her, listened to her and offered her living water – John 3:1-42
Children: Jesus sat them on his knee to bless them – Mark 10:13-16, Mark 9:36-37
A Widow and her penny: Jesus honored her by using her as an example to the disciples of true sacrifice - Mark 12:41-44
Milling crowds of spiritually needy and lost: Jesus had compassion on them, healed and fed them – Matthew 14:13-21
Woman with bleeding for 12 years who touched his robe and was healed: Jesus stopped what he was doing, turned around, looked her in the eye and spoke to her and called her “Daughter” – Luke 8:43-48
Woman caught in sin of adultery: Jesus did not condemn her, but had compassion on her and told her to go and sin no more – John 8:1-11
Levi the Tax collector: Jesus ate with him and his tax-collector co-workers and spent time with them – Luke 5:27-32
Hospitality is Counter-Culture
Putting other people's needs ahead of our own is counter-culture. And Isn’t that the opposite of discrimination which excludes people rather than including them? Isn’t this exactly what Jesus called us to in Philippians 2? Isn’t this the kind of tender compassionate love Jesus modeled for us?
Jesus did not let himself get side-tracked by social bias or status. When he encountered the Pharisees He just blew right through their divisive, arrogant attitudes because they, of all people, should have known better. But when he encountered those in sincere need, wounded or spiritually hungry, He stood face-to-face with them and gave himself unconditionally.
Hospitality is the lifestyle of grace Too many people today identify themselves by their sin, so when you reject the sin they feel like you are rejecting them. So how do you overcome that? I say hospitality with a healthy serving of grace is the answer.
Make people important enough for you to spend time with them regardless of whether they look or act just like you
In Philippians 2:1-11 God’s word tells us that by putting other people’s needs ahead of our own (which is also the definition of love) we can actually make God’s joy complete (vs 2). This passage of scripture is a lesson on how to live humbly in service of others, free from discrimination just like Jesus did and that achievement makes God happy. How incredible! I want to live like that, don’t you?
I can’t think of too many other good habits that you can cultivate that are as simple as inviting someone over for coffee. By bringing them to your table you give them the honor of deserving your undivided attention. Make people important enough for you to spend time with them regardless of whether they look or act, or believe just like you.
Here is the deal. We are not God; so we can’t really change a person’s inner motivation and corrupted nature from the effect of sin. But we can follow Jesus’ example and be a conduit of divine truth and love. If you only see your neighbor through the lens of the world’s discriminating view, you miss who they really are from God’s point of view.
Hospitality could be the cure for discrimination
We know from Philippians 2 that selfless love is a life-altering power; so start putting it to work as Christ’s ambassador. Get to know your neighbor heart to heart and differences will evaporate.
Seek out your neighbor and look them in the eye. Call them by name, share a meal with them. Ask strategic questions then listen to what is going on in their heart and life. Get to know their family, their work, their hurt, their joy, their strengths, and their weaknesses. You don’t have to be a professional or have all the answers to life’s problems. Invest the time it takes for that kind of relationship to unfold. Pray for them and pray with them if they allow. Their trust will deepen and before you know it they will be hungering after God and healing will begin to unfold; all because they have seen reflected in you the sacrificial, non-discriminating love of Jesus.
The compelling physical proximity of the Holy Spirit living in us is released to work when we bring people into our lives and homes. Holy Spirit is the only one who can lovingly transform the human heart from within; but if we don’t intentionally move in close and get inside a person’s defenses, appreciate them beyond differences, they may never see Jesus or feel the Holy Spirit’s touch.
You and I are God’s chosen vehicle to transmit the powerful message of reconciliation. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect or undamaged ourselves, but He does expect us to engage. He is the Master and He has all the power; but we need to connect. So set this super power inside you free!
Hospitality is the cure for discrimination
I want to throw a monkey-wrench in to the way you have become accustomed to thinking and living.
Discipleship isn’t who we are. We are Christ-followers and discipleship is what that looks like. We can look at the world around us in despair and criticism, only seeing insurmountable differences with how other people don’t measure up (for which social media is not the cure): OR, we can stand out and live the way we were commissioned to in Matthew 28: 18-20 as disciple-makers. Simplified - Jesus said: Love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40).
This loving our neighbors can be accomplished by intentional hospitality; and hospitality can be the cure for discrimination. All you need to do to begin the journey is go open your door, pull up a chair and talk to your neighbor. This simple act of love multiplies the kingdom of God and heals lives.
Hospitality is an essential strategy to live our purpose as disciple makers when we have committed to follow Jesus wherever He leads. He already put you in your neighborhood, so this is a way to help others discover their identity as created in the image of God where we are not only all equal but equally loved. It is a way to daily put the eternal needs of those around you ahead of your own wants. It is a grace-filled way to live for Jesus that abolishes discrimination.
Do you love the picture this paints?
Are you feeling excited at the thought that your life and your table could have such a global, social impact with eternal purpose? It gives me chills! What is holding you back?
Live the life you were called into. Start right now.
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