– ryan james ross
Have you ever been invited into a space that overwhelmed you with gratitude and awe?
Like being invited into a group or party that made you think,
“Who am I that I get to be here?”
“Who am I that I get to be with these people?”
I remember a time recently where Rachel and I got invited to a party with these friends that we really loved and admired. The invite to spend time with them and their family in their home meant the world to us. To share life with them moved us from admiring fans to real friends; people that do life together. Rachel and I felt like, “Who are we that they would like us?!” Yes, even though that sounds like middle school social dynamics stuff, let’s be honest… even as adults we feel like that sometimes!
I remember the first time I got invited to go to Ken and Margie Blanchard’s house. I had read Ken’s books. I was shaped by his lessons in leadership. I had heard him speak in front of huge audiences and I had even heard other famous people talk about Ken and Margie Blanchard. I was in awe when I sat in their living room and found myself eating and drinking with them like a friend — like family.
I remember this one day, sitting with Ken Blanchard and Dawn Neldon, and Ken asks us to review his sermon writing and give any suggestions to make it better! Yes, you can laugh…us review his writing. Dawn and I looked at each other and audibly said, “Who are we that we get invited into this space?!”
This “inviting others in close” is also called hospitality, and it is a mark of divine community.
The study of hospitality throughout the books of the Bible is fascinating. There are so many passages that teach the ethos of inviting others in close, taking care of them, and creating community. Try a google search on verses about hospitality, and you’ll get a great list to read through. A list that will reveal the God of hospitality throughout the old and new testaments. Let’s just hit a few great passages here.
From the very beginning, as God was laying out life principles for his people in the book of Leviticus, He charges His people to invite strangers and foreigners in close:
“Treat them [the stranger among you] as if they were your own, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” ~ Leviticus 19:34
Obedience to this principle of radical hospitality would’ve created a very diverse and loving community made up of all kinds of racial and religious backgrounds. Imagine living this out in a time where racism, division, and judgment of the other was rampant. But that was back then, right? [smirk]
Centuries later, the Son of God comes on the scene and models what a life of hospitality and love looks like on the streets — and it shocked the religious elite. Jesus created community with everybody, and in a time where righteousness was evidenced by what you ate and who you ate with (or more like what you wouldn’t eat and who you wouldn’t eat with), Jesus’ kind of hospitality actually looked totally irreverent.
Jesus even says of Himself that he modeled a life of eating and drinking with everybody. And people called him a glutton and drunkard because of it.
“The Son of Man comes eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” ~ Matthew 11:19
Jesus created community parties wherever he went, and the wisdom that was revealed in this was that people felt comfortable with him, they built relationships with Jesus, and by this He was able to speak into their lives and give them the good news of who He was.
So, the early Christians in the first century began to follow Jesus’ way and they continued to invite everyone into the God family. The community of hospitality grew and challenged some deeply held misunderstandings of who God would invite into His family – who was worthy to sit at the table.
Acts 10 contains an incredible story of God giving Peter a vision that made Peter stop judging people as pure or impure, clean or unclean. It drove Peter into community with Cornelius — they entered a home together and ate and drank just like Jesus did, and it changed the life of Cornelius and Peter alike. That moment launched the early church into being a people known for hospitality to the other once again, and it should be a characteristic of Jesus community to this very day.
I think God puts people on our hearts all the time. People that He wants us to reach out to, strangers that He wants us befriend. Who could you invite in close this next week? Is there someone that you could create a party with, have over for dinner, go do something with?
Is there someone outside that you know would like to be invited in?
This “inviting others in close” is called hospitality, and it is a mark of divine community.
I got the opportunity to talk about some of this on a podcast with our good friends over at Orchard Community Church.
You can listen to that here: How to Find and Build Community
the office [not dunder mifflin]
We’ve got office… and what a story of Jesus-like hospitality.
Our team has been searching for a spot where we can meet, use wifi, and get stuff done throughout the week [starbucks was getting real old]. We’d put out a few feelers and just this weekend, we got word that our friends over at The Church at RB have a space for us!
This last weekend Nate and Ian [CRB staff] opened the door to a room and said, “will this be alright for you?” We walked in and saw an incredible space, nicer than any office we’ve ever had before.
It’s beautiful… and they’re asking if it will be OK for us? Ha!!!!
Yes, I believe it will suffice. : )
Once again, I was left feeling “who are we that we would be invited into this space?”
I know that people around Jesus felt that way all the time, and so, as Jesus followers, may we all continue to invite others in to share life with, foster community, and live out the hospitality that comes from our loving God. That kind of love saves the world.
the unicorns [again]
We wanted to remind you of our upcoming talk on parenting for moms of young kids. Uncommoners, Dawn Neldon and Maren Nelson are hosting Raising Unicorns at Maren’s house in Poway, March 27th, @ 9:30 – 11 AM
Join us for mimosas and mom-spiration as Dawn shares about growing kids who stand out in a world that tells them to fit in.
There’s still space left [for now] – click the red button to register!
You are loved and valued.
Thank you and God Bless!