The heart of the gospel is rooted in hospitality; and at the core, both the heart of the gospel and hospitality are simple. They both invite the weary, the messy, the brokenhearted, the questioning to come and find rest. They both welcome the stranger and offer refuge for our souls. ~ Jen Schmidt, Craving Connections
It’s late in the afternoon when I finally find a quiet pocket of time to gather my materials and play with my rolls of Washi tape and colored pencils. I clear space at my table for a few minutes to let the words soak and wait for what comes to the surface. I bought my journaling bible years ago with the intent of including art as a means of processing and connecting with God. The visual work helps solidify whatever it is I’m learning.
My yellow pencil loops smooth around the stamped image of a wreath. With the rounding motion of my hand, I can’t help but think about circles, and how I’m constantly tempted to pull my own circles tighter around me. For safety. For comfort. Because connection is not always easy and because invitation carries risk, and who among us isn’t a little weary of being broken by relationship?
But God’s hospitality constantly reminds me to loosen my grip. To let others into my circle. To look past my own gnawing need for self-preservation and consider ways that my invitation might be a life-preserver for someone out there whose craving connection.
There’s been a lot of talk lately in the world about who should be let in and who shouldn’t be. There’s talk of enemies and allies, of sheep and wolves in sheep’s clothing. We’re all wrestling for answers, looking for wisdom to know how to live right amid so much wrong. I turn these conversations over again and again as I work. I’m slow to process. Slow to plant my feet where some demand I must. I’m bent more on listening these days, than talking. Cupped hands in prayer seem more effective right now than fists flung in the air.
I don’t know policy, I know people. I don’t know the ins and outs of laws, but I know the One who came to fulfill the law. I know what love looks like, what connection feels like. I know invitations and being welcomed. And I know that Peter, a first-hand experiencer of Jesus’ grace, well acquainted with the hospitality of Christ, tells me to be hospitable, to serve without grumbling, to manage the grace God’s shown me, that others might know His grace too (1 Peter 4:9-10).I’m no perfect manager of grace, but I can manage to make a meal for people who may not appreciate the effort, and sometimes, I think, maybe that’s almost the same thing.
Paul said “make friends with the nobodies…he told us to buy lunch for our enemies, to give them a cold drink if they need one–surprise them with goodness, he said” (Romans 12:16-21 Msg). This is how we get evil’s goat. We invite, we serve, we love. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I sit with my pencils and various tapes for two hours. I’m still more than I’m working. I’m steeping in it, like my tea that’s turned cold in the waiting. I pick up a cardboard chip emblazoned with the words, “He knows” and nod my head in relief and surrender. I still don’t have the concrete answers I’ve been praying for. But in the midst of the turmoil of our times, that’s where I’ve landed at the moment–in the territory of “He knows.” I don’t have to know all of the ways. Not right now, anyway. I need to know the One who is the Way. I need only to love.
There is no grand blueprint for biblical hospitality apart from simply loving others. ~Jen Schmidt, Craving Connection
I write in the margin for myself, one more reminder, “show hospitality.”
Show hospitality to everyone, including those in the margins of society. Love everyone, including those who may not share my worldview, my skin color, my faith, my politics or my lifestyle. Serve everyone, including those who I don’t think deserve it, because God’s grace isn’t only mine but available for them too. There’s a whole world out there, full of people Craving Connection.
The only blueprint for biblical hospitality is to love them. Wherever they are. Wherever I am.
Our friends at (in)Courage recently released their first book, Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Engagement. In conjunction with the release of Craving Connection, Illustrated Faith has put together a beautiful new Craving Connection bundle of Bible journaling goodies. We know you’re a creative bunch *wink*, and we wanted to share this with the GraceTable community.