“Jesus, make our hearts ever gentler and more humble, so that we may be present to those you have confided to our care, and in this way make us instruments of your love which gives life and joy and real freedom.”
-- Jean Vanier
Hospitality is a matter of stewardship. Therefore, good hospitality is good stewardship. Conventionally, we tend to think of stewardship in terms of money and time. Rarely do we see it beyond these borders. Why? Because time and money are the two main treasures of the American individualistic culture. As individualistic beings we have a hard time seeing others as gifts. For us, people are more like puzzles. Hard to exegete. Tricky. Certain people even feel like curses, don’t they?. The truth is that dealing with people is messy and complicated. So much so that french existentialist Jean-Paul Satre used to say that “hell is other people”.
But people are gifts. To the first human, God gave him another human as a gift, for “it was not good for man to be alone”. She was crafted from his own rib. A gift made from him back to him.
Children are gifts and so are friends. In the Gospel of John, the ultimate human (Jesus) receives a people as a gift from the Father (John 10:29, John 17:6). Which tells us that we are the Father’s gift to the Son. And because Jesus sees us as treasure, he has and is stewarding us well. He redeemed us. He has given his life for us. He has clothed us. He has ushered us into the household of God. He is with us. He is for us. He is guarding us. He is defending us. He will never forsake us. Through his Spirit he is making us more life him, and one day he will raise us.
It has always intrigued me that in the journey of following and becoming like Jesus we have failed to see things as Jesus sees it. I think of all the people that God has placed in my life for me to steward for him. From my own wife and children to the guy I see at the gym day after day to my next door neighbor, Jesus has placed them naturally into my life’s circle for me to steward them well. Sometimes I can almost hear him saying: “I am sending people your way, will you care for them well?”
This Sunday we are wrapping a four week long series on Hospitality at Crossbridge because I believe we (as a church) need to give high priority to this forgotten christian practice. Week after week Jesus sends strangers through the doors of our worship center, our offices, our classrooms, and through the front doors of our homes. How will we steward these opportunities? These so called gifts God is sending our way. I know someone in our community that is stewarding people well.
I recently heard that every single day for six months, one of our deacons visited at Jackson Memorial a ten year old Chinese girl that battled leukemia. This girl was neither part of our deacon’s family, nor part of our church. She was not even a fellow believer in Christ. Merely a neighbor. The bad news is that a few weeks ago the little girl lost her battle to cancer. The good news however, is that because of our deacon’s hospitality and great stewardship of that life, the little girl responded positively to the ultimate host’s invitation. And today because of someone’s faithful hospitality even though she is physically dead, she spiritually lives with Jesus. One day she will also be physically alive again. It gets better. All of the little girl’s immediate family that came from China to care for her, saw our deacon’s care and love and where compelled to give their lives to Jesus as well.
This is what good gospel stewardship of people looks like. So let’s steward people well, because hospitality is a matter of stewardship.