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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HOSPITALITY AND VULNERABILITY

A couple weeks ago, I had a group of Arab women over to my new apartment for the first time. I clarify that they’re Arab, because Arab women are some of the most hospitable people in the world. Their houses are spotless. They always have a meal prepared for you even if you arrive unannounced. So it was like I was having a group of fashion experts take a look at my closet. I was sure I would not measure up, but later they texted our group whatsapp touting how clean my house was and how good my food tasted. #winning


It’s a vulnerable thing to have people in your home. They are free to look through your kitchen cabinets, judge the books on your shelves. You may not measure up to their standards with your food or your hostessing skills. Sometimes I catch myself putting my relationship with God in this context. I’ll find myself avoiding talking to Him about something, asking for something, because it feels like an invitation for Him to be a little closer than I’m comfortable with. 


When I choose vulnerability with God, when I choose to share things that come from the deep part of my soul--my fears, hopes, dreams, sinful tendencies--it’s possible we will be disappointed. Maybe He doesn’t care, or worse, maybe I will be shamed because of them. Sharing things with God means we’re inviting Him into a more intimate part of our souls. Sometimes people, especially many Christians and Muslims I’ve interacted with, are happy to serve God. It’s like we go to His house and do the chores for Him and exchange pleasantries at the beginning and end of the day. But inviting Him over to our home would be a different thing entirely. What if He doesn’t like the books He sees on the shelf? What if I cook the meat poorly and it’s tough? What if my toilet isn’t as clean as I want it to be? He might be disappointed in me. He might look at me and see that I am not enough. 


Ironically, the fears that we have when other people visit our homes have no place when we are talking about God. Even though He is perfectly Holy, the King of the Universe, He wants to be invited over when our house is in serious need of Marie Kondo. He wants to come and see the dirty corners and enjoy the flavorless “Italian” meal you’ve made Him. 


I know this for two main reasons. The first is the life of Jesus. He spent time with messy people. He literally went to the homes of the most unacceptable folks. He loved those messy people well--taking most of His time to condemn the people who pretended to have it all together. The second reason is Scripture. The Bible is full of verses about God’s desire to be let into our messiness and take part in its redemption. One of my favorites is a simple line in the book of Romans that goes, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There’s no concern about getting things perfectly in order beforehand. Jesus gave His life for people who can’t keep it together. 


The invitation is there for all. We can go on believing that God doesn’t care about our problems, or we can come to Him with a cornucopia of disaster, and let Him lovingly help us through it.


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