Martha Stewart, meet Mary, sister of Martha

Martha Stewart, meet Mary, sister of Martha, or

Entertainment v. Biblical hospitality

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My party observation: Entertainment is about the host/hostess. Hospitality (especially of the Biblical variety) is about the guest.

Here’s entertainment: If the food, games (where applicable), music, décor, and overall ambiance are not just so, it’s, well, admit it, it just might be a flop. If the compliments and accolades from the guests aren’t as over the top as all the money, time, and effort that went into being impressive, then why the heck was there a party?

Entertainment is about the host or hostess looking and feeling good. It’s about the house being clean and the food being fresh, homemade, and delicious. It’s about all the elements matching, down to the music playlist. It’s about the Christmas tree, the Pinterest-inspired centerpiece, the toothpicks with holiday-themed frills.

Entertainment inspires awe and praise and a sense that you probably owe the hostess a monogrammed thank you note with an appropriately-themed stamp.

Contrast that with Biblical hospitality. (In the context of a party, anyway: Biblical hospitality is way more a way of life than an event.)

In a nutshell, Biblical hospitality is about the guests: making them feel at home, comfortable, welcome, and unconditionally accepted. When your guests feel at ease enough to kick off their shoes and prop their holey socks up on your coffee table, or at home enough to go poking around your kitchen cabinets looking for a glass, then you’ve exhibited Biblical hospitality.

Biblical hospitality is putting the dog up so it doesn’t scare your visiting toddlers. It’s asking guests to help with tasks (especially in the kitchen), because everyone needs to be needed, and there is warm fellowship in working together.

Biblical hospitality is putting away the breakable things when one of your guests is a 14-month-old. It’s genuinely not caring when a four-year-old guest spills Kool-Aid on the carpet.  (Oh, how I wish I’d known that so many years ago when I was childless but my friends were not!)

It’s offering a glass of water before offering to give a tour. It’s turning off the television unless your guests ask for it to be on. It’s watching their cell phone slide show instead of pulling out your (conveniently handy) three-inch vacation photo album. It’s not offering pound cake to a friend on a diet. (Wait, I think I hear the “guilty” chime again.)

Biblical hospitality is asking Jesus to bless the food as you’re preparing it, not just when you sit down to eat it. It’s praying that your time together is a blessing, that your house is a place of refuge for all who enter, that your guests leave with an extra helping of peace in their hearts and joy in their steps.

Biblical hospitality does not close the door to the bedrooms for fear of revealing a mess. When your goal is to bless your guests in the manner of Jesus, you will be required to be vulnerable at some point. It will show your messiness – and his Grace.

Biblical hospitality looks easier, but is actually harder than entertaining – because it is other-focused and relationship-centered, rather than self-centered and material.

And by it, we may, as the writer of Hebrews says, “entertain angels.”

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Published in: on September 4, 2012 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment