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Hospitality is a Gift

Hospitality is a Gift

One of the best parts of the leadership development program I work for is that we provide our Fellows (that’s what we call the leaders) host families to live with.

We are in the middle of Host Family recruitment at the moment, which has got me focused on this part of our program a little more than usual. The process reminds me of how big a deal it is to invite someone into your home, let alone live there for ten months.

Last week, I was getting a lot of rejections, which is what prompted me to tell Lia, half-seriously, “hey, what if we just had the Fellows live in our basement?” Lia, looked at me with that stink-eye I find so attractive and told me in no uncertain terms that if I even tried it, I’d also be looking for a place to live.

All this has got me thinking about the verses where Jesus tells his disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”

The image here is actually more intense and intimate than it may already seem.

In Jesus’ time, when two people got married, they moved to the parents of the groom’s house. What happened during the betrothal period was that the groom-to-be built an addition onto his family’s house for he and his wife-to-be to live. Only after he was done construction, could he come back and claim his bride and get married. Nowadays, Middle Eastern groom-to-bes build on top of their parent’s home. That’s why there is rebar always sticking out of folk’s houses.

So what Jesus is actually telling the disciples here is not merely that in heaven you and I are going to have a place to live; he is saying that the kind of relationship we are going to have in heaven with him is like the relationship a bride has with a husband!

To hammer this home, look at what Jesus says in the next verse: “And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (my emphasis). Jesus doesn’t say, “take you to your house” – he says, instead, “take you to be with me.” The image here is akin to a husband receiving a bride!

Wow! That is some crazy love! I’m just asking these Host Families for a bed and access to a bathroom, and I think that is hospitality. Jesus describes for us a hospitality that goes a bit farther than that! He is proposing!

It’s so intense it’s almost unsettling. And yet, could there be anything better than to be this close to Jesus? To be a son in-law or daughter in-law to the King? It’s an analogy of course. In places the Bible calls us sons and daughters; we are described as adopted children in others. But here, it is clear that Jesus has an intimate relationship in mind. That’s crazy to me. Absolutely amazing.

The bottom line is that we have a hospitable savior – that when you and I show hospitality to each other, we are reflecting part of God’s character.

It’s true. I see God in the way these Host Families welcome in these strangers each year. (Of course these strangers are vetted and have had background checks, but still.) What they do is beautiful to me.

And I’m just saying – we need a few more…hint hint…

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Ned Erickson

Ned is the Founder and Executive Director of the Winston-Salem Fellows, a non-profit dedicated to equipping people to live seamless lives as they grow into the men and women they were created to be. He is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed novel Clay. He, his wife, two children, dogs, rabbit, guinea pig, turtle, and chickens live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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