Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Lydia and the Quest for Hospitality

Photo Courtesy of: Brooke Lark

“Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us.” ~Acts 16:11-15

The ministry of hospitality is not dependent on a particular personality trait. It does not stem from whether one is an introvert or extravert, an enneagram 7 or an enneagram 1. Hospitality is also not just for those who are well-gifted in the arts of home decor, creative design ideas, or gourmet cooking on a budget. Instead, the ministry of hospitality, even just the desire itself to extend hospitality to others, stems first and foremost from an acknowledgement of what God has done in our lives.

We see this exemplified so beautifully in the story of Lydia. Here was a creative businesswoman and, most likely seamstress, who was regularly given to worship of God and prayer. When she, through Paul, became exposed to further truth about the God she worshipped, her desire was to be baptized. Her immediate next response was this: “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” Immediately following God’s work in her heart and her subsequent baptism, her response is to yearn to extend hospitality to this man who has spoken biblical truth to her and ministered to her. 

What Lydia does in this passage is not begrudgingly offer an invitation to her home because she feels as if she has to or merely believes it is the right thing to do, a practice Christians are tasked with. No, it’s much more than that. She literally begs them to come to her home and allow her to care for them. That, friends, is how we ought to be when considering the topic of extending hospitality to someone. 

Hospitality is not about striving for perfection, entertaining, impressing people, or having the most spotless home, tastiest food, and in-vogue decor. It is about loving God and loving others. It is about so delighting in, resting in, and flourishing in God’s love for you that you can’t help but pour that love back out to others. It’s about being so grateful for God’s love, mercy, and grace, that you can’t wait to extend that same love, mercy, and grace to everyone you know who you might could open your door to. 

Truly, hospitality is an outpouring to others of what God has given to you. When we keep that in mind, it becomes so much easier to cease the striving, the stress, and the sense of overwhelm at the thought of having people into your home. Because it isn’t about you anymore. It’s about God’s goodness and the wellbeing of those who enter your home. With that proper perspective in place, it won’t matter if what you serve is pizza on paper plates - your guests would probably prefer that anyway! It won’t matter if your sink is full of dishes and there are crumbs on your floor - your guests will probably feel much more at home!

It isn’t that we don’t seek to care well for our homes and offer our guests the best. But it is that we are ready and willing, from a heart of love rather than performance and pride, to throw open our doors to guests no matter when it is and what the state of our homes may be in that moment. After all, the ministry of hospitality is just that - a ministry!

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