Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Inventive Hopsitality

I think most people have a favourite version of the Bible. When you’re doing your devotions, reading through scripture in church, or just browsing through the Bible in your down time, there’s probably a preferred version you keep handy for these moments. For myself, I’m a big fan of the New Living Translation. I find it easy to read, understand, and more verses ‘stick out’ to me when I’m browsing.

Lately, however, I’ve been intrigued by ‘The Message’ version of the Bible. It’s simplicity, while still getting across the point of what scripture is saying, makes it easy to read and relate to. It almost feels like I am reading a novel—easily captivating while leaving me eager to read more.

The most recent devotion I'm working through is by She Reads Truth and the topic is Prayer. Each day you are provided with scripture to discover, supplemented with a few paragraphs to read to really drive home the significance of the passages. The day laid out before me a few days ago had a simple verse with the following information to supplement; memorize the verse you’re about to read. 

The verses picked were Romans 12:11-13:

I’m sure we’ve all had those moments; you’re reading through a section of the Bible (or really any book in general) and BAM! Out of seemingly nowhere a phrase, sentence or passage just stands out to you. You can’t help yourself, you just need to read it again and again, then think about it, and then read it in another version for added impact and education.

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. 
Always be eager to practice hospitality” 
Romans 12:13 NLT

I found both versions of Romans 12:13 to be educational, impactful and inspiring. I couldn’t stop thinking about the concept of inventive hospitality. Something about recreating our original conceptions of hospitality to have a greater impact on those around us is striking and consuming—it’s like the high-hope anticipation of a pretty new diamond, hiding in the box before being presented-- excitedly waiting to be brought to life by someone willing to wear it and showcase the love that gave the ring purpose. The diamond had a purpose, it's destiny awaits it, but the love behind it makes it all the more amazing and captivating. 

I wanted to examine my ideas of hospitality and how we can reinvent our actions when trying to live out such a word full of meaning.

When I think of hospitality I generally think of my time waitressing—a brief 6-month transitional period where I learned a lot about what I didn’t like doing, and I learned to rely on God to get through a day. Waitressing was all about serving the customer to the absolute best of your ability. No matter what you had to be attentive, friendly, considerate, do everything right, apologize profusely if anything did go wrong (even if it wasn’t your fault, and even if it was something as simple as it being a busy time and the food taking longer than what the customer deemed acceptable for their meal), and be all this and more that to every single person you are interacting with for your entire shift. Insert exhausted emoji here.

With this slightly skewed perspective on hospitality from a job I didn’t love, I felt the need to look up an actual definition of hospitality:

The quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

There are generic ways we live out the definition of hospitality with those around us. Generally speaking, we will be polite with those around us, smile, ask pleasant questions and listen to a response to make 'small talk'. Maybe you take your kindness one step further and let someone else go ahead of you in line at a coffee shop. Maybe you buy a round of drinks when meeting new friends. You’re being warm and friendly, being generous and kind.  
You’re doing all the right things. 
You are the walking definition of hospitality.

But we don't want to just act out the description in a dictionary, we are called to redesign the definition. The Bible instructs us to envision new and inventive ways to showcase this hospitality above the social norms of society. As Christians, we should be living out hospitality so over-the-top that when people find out we are interacting with strangers, they are completely blown away!

How do you normally treat strangers warmly? If it is normally with a smile why not say ‘hello’? It’s small and it’s simple, but more importantly, it’s unexpected. That’s what being inventive is all about! How are you friendly to strangers? Opening a door for someone, letting someone go before you in line, the same 'warm' smile on the street as you pass by? Step it up just one notch—hold the door open and say something like ‘hope you have a wonderful day!’

Generosity is probably the ideal I am most excited about. Being generous isn’t just about money, although that is often the most common representation. A friend recently asked me to create a cake for her very last minute. Normally I say no to last-minute inquiries, but this time, after thinking about what I had been learning, I said yes! I was generous with my time and resources and she was so thankful! Generosity comes in many forms. Time is something we will never get back so, realistically, this is probably our most precious resource. Giving our time to someone is probably the most inventive way to exhibit this God-breathed perspective of hospitality!

I'd like to challenge you to go above and beyond in your interactions with those around you this week-- take a few moments to asses your approach to hospitality and come up with new and unexpected ways to show your warmth, friendliness and generosity. It will be life changing for you and those you are interacting with. I'd say trust me, but really, trust the Bible-- God knows best and he's going to guide you!