Kingdom Principle: At the outermost-edges of the Kingdom are Hospitality & Humility.
|Jeremiah 2:4-13||Psalm 81:1, 10-16||Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16||Luke 14:1, 7-14|
In October 2012, we established that the doorway to the Kingdom is opened only by Submission to the King. While Obedience will lead you up to the door, it will not open it, for submission is a matter of the heart, while obedience is a matter of right actions. Inside the Kingdom, hospitality is clearly expressed in the lives of those at the entrance and Humility “guards” the back door.” The guarding is not out of fear that people will escape out, rather against those who attempt to “sneak in” rather than through the front door. This reference highlights the difference between the approach of the institutional church and the Kingdom of God. The local or institutional church does everything they can get people in the front door, then locks the back so no one gets out… It has been my suggestion the church is to have both a front door and back door and neither are to be ever locked or closed. My hope is that the front door of the local church and the front of the Kingdom will become more closely associated. The front door of the Kingdom is opened by submission; the front door of the church is opened by invitation. Today we connect these two concepts with hospitality & humility. (This does not make us the doorway… and all too often we prevent others from entering by getting in the way (this builds on last week’s post, in having a desire to be right.)…. Any desire of ours to be right, popular, needed or important indicates we are moving in the opposite direction of hospitality and humility.
Character is at the center of both Hospitality and Humility. This week we are presented with the notion that God’s character does not change, yet His people do not always choose him. If they would choose to submit to God’s will verses their own, then they will walk with confidence, knowing that the Lord will never leave them or forsake them. However, many do not listen to the Lord, and many try to outright prove themselves and their ways as superior to God’s ways. Jesus confronts this thinking in the Luke passage – and it is demonstrated as leaving those who choose the right ways of the world as humiliated, rather than choosing to submit to God and out of humility being exalted in the Kingdom.
There is a saying in my house, “A place for everything, everything in its place.” This is about order and structure – much like in the Kingdom. For my wife, it is truly important that things get back in their place, in my 15 years of learning to love my wife, I have learned this value and not only accepted it, I have come to benefit from it. (Let’s see if she reads this….! Another saying is Cleanliness is next to Godliness – see what I have to say about this one…) Do you know your place in the Kingdom of God, and if you do, invite others to that place…. Your place is to offer hospitality to everyone around you – including and especially strangers, and to do so in a way of humility. Hospitality welcomes another into your place. Humility demonstrates you are aware of your place without a need to advance or take another place. Humility is not thinking less about yourself, it is thinking about yourself less. If you practice Hospitality without Humility – when you are welcoming others – you will defend your place or try to find your place at the same time. If you practice Humility without Hospitality, then you greatly decrease your chances of Credibility (read here to connect Character & Credibility). The Parable immediately following in the Luke Passage (Luke 14:15-24) must be connected with this to understand the content… Simply Put – if you invite because others can grow your status – is it Hubris (pride) not Hospitality. And beware You can’t invite a few “token” poor, crippled, lame, & blind people… for if you do those you seek to impress will not come either. You must embrace the Kingdom as a way of life, in this you discover what is relevant.
The Hebrews passage ties this all together – It is Love that is given in the name of Jesus who is the same yesterday, today and forever. It is love on every level, the most intimate of relationships (the marriage bed) to the messy missional engagement of welcoming strangers into your home. Regardless of whom you love – may it be done as a sacrifice and offering unto God.
Thoughts to keep you moving…
The number #1 excuse people give about not being hospitable is they don’t want to invite people to their home because it is too messy. How might a messy house indicate a spiritual reality? And how might this lead you to either ask for help – growing your humility, or cause you to identify a deeper reason why you fear hospitality. (Don’t take this too far or you end up with Spiritual OCD…)
The number #2 reason that people avoid hospitality is that they are too busy…. (refer back to caring-less and being too busy) If we are too busy we are apt to miss the calling and directions of God. The irony of this is that while our business is a “mistake” we maintain this pace for fear that we will fall behind or make a mistake that others will call us on. (Remember the Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37)
Finally – You cannot fake Humility. Hospitality does not require a house to invite people to… Humility & Hospitality are identified by others, not established by you. This takes place when you naturally invite others to feel like they can be themselves (Acceptance & Appreciation) and they enter a state of peace around you. How can you this week can you think about another person, and create a way to value them right where they are.