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Difficult Guests

Showing Hospitality to "the Least of These"

“So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me…” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

Can you imagine the emotion in the room that night? These men had spent three years together. They were family. They had traveled, on foot, nearly 3,000 miles, through the heat of the wilderness and through freezing cold. They had fed thousands upon thousands of people - from nothing; they watched as Jesus made a blind man see, and they stood by as the lame were made to walk again. They were present to witness the grief of a father whose young daughter had just died and the overwhelming joy of that same daddy when his little girl was brought back to life. Lepers were made well. Spirits were cast to the wayside, and raging storms were calmed by a simple command.

All of this they experienced - together - and it came to an end as they were reclining around a table and eating what would be their last meal together. Can you imagine the eyes of Judas meeting the eyes of Jesus that night? Can you imagine the heaviness in the hearts of both men as Judas asked Jesus, “surely, you don’t mean me?”

I’ve never been in the position of inviting someone to my table who I knew would be responsible for my death, and I don’t want to compare anything you or I will ever face to the events Jesus endured following that night. But, if we can learn to look at the difficult people in our lives the same way Jesus looked at Judas - if we had a purpose for our service to others that reached beyond ourselves, then we'd have a much easier time dealing with those in our own lives who hurt us. Disclaimer - I’ve never been any good at this.

As a child, I remember longing for my biological father who decided there were more important things to him than his own children. For the first few years of my life, I didn’t know where he was or if he was still alive. Mom had remarried, and while I had a dad who raised me, one who has loved me as his own and one who I adore as much as any daughter could, it was the absence of my biological father that taught me to value loyalty and have a deep sensitivity towards those who break my trust. So for me, the thought of spending my time or effort on a person who has hurt me, to be completely honest, it makes me feel like tossing my cookies.

Offer hospitality to one another without complaint. 1 Peter 4:9

This verse is highlighted on all of my social media accounts because it's one of my greatest struggles, and this blog is as much for me as it is for those who read it. Because in our culture, hospitality has become something we practice with those we love the most, those who are in our inner circles: our family, our closest friends, and maybe even those we want to impress. We practice it with those who make us feel good, those who make us feel safe, and those who make us feel valued, but if we look deeper into what Peter said, would we find that there should be more to our hospitality?

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for human desires but rather for the will of God…above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins…Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms…If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.”

The truth is that our hospitality was never intended to be about us in the first place. It isn’t supposed to be about public opinion or how it makes us look. It’s not about showing our abilities to entertain or even about hosting according to our own levels of comfort. It was always intended to be about service to God through our service to others, including those we struggle the most to be around.

If we go back to the night when Jesus was at the table with His disciples, back to the moments immediately after Jesus told Judas He knew about the upcoming betrayal, Jesus says: “it would have been better for the man had he never been born.” What stronger words can be said about a person than those? But, I don’t believe Jesus was saying those words in the same way you or I would feel about a person betraying us. He didn’t say “it would be better for ‘me’ had Judas never been born.” He said those words for Judas - out of grief for the soul of His friend. Jesus wasn’t at that table for Himself; He was there for the sole purpose of fulfilling the will of His Father.

If Jesus can break bread with the man who would betray Him, and if He can still have room at His table for all of us who are also responsible for His death, then can’t we learn to be hospitable towards those who have hurt us? In the past, I would have never extended the invitation to a person like this in the first place, and in the unlikely event that someone who had betrayed me would be sitting at my table, my focus would have been on my feelings or what I’d like to say to make them feel guilty about whatever they had done. We all have people in our lives we've felt this way about at some point or another, but according to Peter, those are the ones we should primarily be serving. I believe the only way we can accomplish that kind of service is by shifting our focus towards Jesus. If we can do that, it will be a whole lot easier to view those who have hurt us as souls Christ came to save. It would be easier to see their betrayals towards us in the same light we see our own betrayals against God. If He can save room at His table for someone as weak as me, I believe I can save room at my table for the ones He wants as much as He wants me.

2 Σχόλια

THIS! Laura, your words have opened ky eyes for sure. “Hospitality is not about us, it is about serving God while sercing others” THAT is a powerful statemen!!

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Laura Galloway
Laura Galloway
04 Απρ 2022
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Thank you, Mrs. Jimmie. Sure do love you!

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The Galloways

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