I was kind of excited last Sunday. The NFL divisional playoffs were going to be on television and “our” team, THE Seattle Seahawks, were playing for the NFC championship, the game that would determine whether or not they were headed to the Superbowl.
“Hold on now,” you say, “Isn’t this supposed to be an inspirational post?” Stick with me here and I’ll get to that!
I was excited about the game but I was also excited because my husband had invited our next-door neighbors over to watch with us and this was another chance to practice hospitality, that thing I’ve been learning more about since moving to the South (for Part 1 on Hospitality you can link back HERE).
“You know that Mark and Kathleen are Packer’s fans,” my husband slipped into the conversation as we were bustling around in preparation.
“What? Oh NOOOOOOOOOO!”
Yeah, you guessed it, THAT was the team we were playing against that day.
If you are a football fan you know that some people can be really hard-core about their teams. I’m pretty hard-core about my team . . . but a nice hard-core,
. . . like having a whole room of my house dedicated to the Hawks. Don’t judge!
I was beginning to wonder how this was all going to pan out . . .
Welcome to FREEDOM FRIDAY – A new devotional, emotional, spiritual and sometimes hysterical series that I will be sharing on occasional Fridays, in addition to my regular Old Things New posts. Why? Because though once bound in chains Christ has set me free – FREE to live, to love, to dance, to sing, to be who God created me to be!
It is easy (or at least easy-er) to practice hospitality toward people who think like we do, act like we do or kinda look like we do. Therefore, we tend to invite people into our lives who are a lot like us. By the way, if you aren’t in the habit of practicing hospitality already that is a very good place to start.
But what about those who are very different from us, those who have different values or belief systems, those who seem to have nothing in common with us, or who just don’t appeal to our “sensibilities”?! There may even be those we’ve looked down on because of their lifestyle or their circumstances. Oops, sorry, I know none of my readers have done that. But the fact is that I have, and I’m not very proud of it. It was when we found ourselves an integral part of the “recovery community” some 15 years ago, something I didn’t plan on being a part of, or really want to be a part of, that God began to change my heart.
As Christ followers we are called to LOVE. As our Pastor Roy said in a recent sermon, “Love shouldn’t be something we TRY, it is [supposed to be] who we are.”
In my last FF post I gave you a list of things I’ve learned and things I’m learning about hospitality. This is a continuation of that list but geared toward being hospitable toward those who don’t believe the way we do. This can be a fellow Christ follower or someone who has a totally different belief system. You can link back HERE if you’d like to take a look at part 1 of the list.
The following are suggestions for you, and for me, to think about:
- First of all, when offering hospitality to someone who believes differently it is good to ask ourselves the question, “How is my heart toward this person?” Matthew 9:36 says, “”When he saw the crowds, he [Jesus] had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
- Ask God to give you a new perspective toward those who are different. Ask Him to show you the way He sees them.
- Next, find out where the other person is “coming from”. What is their belief system, upbringing, and experience? Ask, then listen. Connect and be present.
- Don’t have contempt for people who are acting according to their nature. If they don’t know who they are in Christ how can they act like Christians? In other words, don’t judge those who don’t know the truth.
- Realize that people’s circumstances (i.e., homeless, drug addicted, divorced, etc.) are not who they are.
- Realize that no matter where a person is in life, most people just want to be loved.
- Imagine how you would want to be treated and then practice grace toward others. Many people have never experienced grace, dignity and love.
- When differences arise, and they will if you are sharing your faith, choose your battles carefully.
- We can’t push people into thinking the way we do but we can be salt and light to them in other ways – Matthew 5:13-16. Get creative!
- Honor people by being gentle and respectful. Titus 3:1-2
- Be calm, not emotional in any “discussion”.
- Speak only if a difference can be made.
- Think carefully about the words you use.
- Slow down and don’t try to take people from zero to 100!
- Remember how God redeemed your story. Titus 3:3-5
- Finally, how do we present ourselves? Are we authentic about who we are?
- Be real with your mess-ups! When people find out that you aren’t as “perfect” as you look on the outside they will begin to open up more about the messes in their own lives!
- And . . . as shared in part 1 . . . be vulnerable, be goofy, and laugh. We could all benefit from more laughter!
Some questions to think about:
Am I using my corner of the world to practice hospitality toward others (whether that be in my home, the workplace, or the marketplace)?
Do I intentionally try to make others feel better about themselves (not in a phony way but honestly, because there is something good to be found in
Am I asking God to help me find the treasure in others?
Do I ask God to give me words of blessing for those I come across on a day-to-day basis?
Am I loving first and asking questions later?
The NFC Divisional playoffs were tense here at our house. The Packers dominated our Hawks for the first three quarters and it looked bad for us. I was amazed at how quiet my husband was in spite of the killing we were taking (GOOD MAN). I was SO sad, thinking that our team didn’t have a chance, but impressed by our neighbor Mark who was kind enough to throw in a cheer or two for the Hawks when they made a good play . . . just because he knew how bad we were feeling. In the end, the Hawks came from behind for a wild and crazy win and we did our best to restrain ourselves from becoming obnoxiously ecstatic!
We felt badly for our neighbors and their loss. We are still friends though (I think) and look forward to getting together again soon to see if we can relate on more common ground.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, please help us to learn how to practice hospitality to those who are different from us. Show us your heart toward others and give us insight into the treasure within each and every person. Teach us to be compassionate and how to love like You do. Please remind us of the place we came from and break our hearts for those who still live in darkness. Teach us when to use words to speak and when to remain silent. Holy Spirit guide us in all that we say and do.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Blessings to you my dear friends,
P.S. We’re goin’ to The Superbowl!!!
I have been know to link to the following Inspirational Parties: