“Home is the nicest word there is.” - Laura Ingalls Wilder
I agree. Who doesn’t love being home, or at the very least, a place that feels like home?
You know what a good home is? A place where you feel like an insider. You feel like you belong, and you can be vulnerable and real. Also a place where you know how to work the shower and find the forks.
And that, thanks to a brilliant bible study I attended this week, is what I realized the church, and really Christianity as a whole, is all about: making us feel at home.
Let us start with Exodus, shall we? God takes the Israelites out of a “house of bondage” and offers the tabernacle instead. Included in its benefits are:
“There I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them.” (Obviously the emphasis is mine. The Bible is not big on italics.)
God wants to live among them; he is offering them a home. Cross over into the New Testament, and we find the idea of homecoming there as well. The whole point of the Gospel is welcoming outsiders and making them insiders. You might call this hospitality.
Did you ever wonder why Jesus gets so upset about people selling stuff in the temple? Other than the probable greed and jacking-up of prices, I mean? The pastor who taught this bible study (who should get full academic credit for this post) noted that capitalism is fine, but capitalism in the house of God is in direct opposition to the kind of hospitality God provides. It’s his house. A house is not a place for you to nickel and dime someone. It would be outrageous for you to invite someone to your house for lunch and then slap a check on their table. In fact, it’s in God’s house that we are reminded how many billions of gifts of grace we have been given.
So, the challenge is, then, to make this welcoming, transforming hospitality a part of our own lines. Yes, with our personalities, but also with our physical houses, our physical churches. Hospitality is not a side spiritual gift for some: it IS the Gospel. Gathering the sheep into the fold is kind of the whole point.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the ideas of hospitality and home lately because I just moved somewhere new. And all you want, when you move somewhere new, is to feel at home. (And to figure out how to work the shower.) That’s what 100% of humanity wants, I would guess. (The feeling at home thing, not the shower thing. Well, maybe that too.) It comes right after physiological and safety needs according to good ole Maslow.
Making someone feel at home is one of the best gifts you can give them, I reckon. I think it’s one really good way to live out the whole “loving your neighbor” thing. Maybe we should love our neighbors by making them feel like family, instead of neighbors.
Well, I’m fresh out of insight. I shall spend the weekend mostly bumming around my current house, which I love, by the way. I hope you also have a homey weekend, whatever that looks like for you.