The Holiday season is, for many of us, a time to come together with seldom seen family and friends and the issue of hosting guests can become high on our priority list. Unfortunately, this can lead to stress, anxiety, performance mentality, and worst of all, missing the reason for Christmas altogether. This being said, I thought it would be a breath of fresh air for us to hear the true meaning of hospitality.
YWAM Asheville staff member, Brittany Jones, is known for her warm laugh, her open heart and her detailed touch when it comes to hospitality. The following is an interview I had with Brittany, discussing her thoughts, convictions and experiences with the gift of hospitality.
Question: What is hospitality?
Brittany: Hospitality is all about the posture of the heart. It's love. So what does love look like? That is what hospitality looks like.
Question: What is hospitality not?
Brittany: Selfish. In order to demonstrate true hospitality, the posture of your heart must be selfless.
Question: What is a lesson you have learned regarding practicing hospitality?
Brittany: A few years ago someone reached out to us in need of a place to stay over the holidays and I was the only staff member here during that time. I was not happy about it. This was my vacation! The posture of my heart was completely inward, not willing to be selfless. I chose to stifle the Spirit of God within me. I didn't want to serve. In the end, they were taken care of with very little work needed at all. Shortly after that, I was in India on a scouting trip. The man who was hosting us went above and beyond in showing us hospitality. I was blown away! He made sure that every need we had was taken care of and more. I was confronted by a Christlike selflessness that I had failed to demonstrate. When we asked him why he had gone to such great lengths for us, he answered, "This is who we are." This challenged me to ask myself, "Is that who I am?" The Lord showed me through these two experiences that selfishness and hospitality can not co-exist.
Question: How does hospitality reflect the Gospel?
Brittany: Hospitality IS the Gospel. A perfect Savior, selflessly given, in order to meet the needs of others. That is the heart of hospitality. Giving sacrificially to meet the needs of others. Hospitality is giving, it's caring, it's loving. It's the Gospel.
Question: What is your advice to those hosting this Holiday season?
Brittany: We must act like Jesus. Jesus always met the physical need as well as the spiritual need. He provided food for the hungry, water for the thirsty. He touched the leper, he healed the sick. When we consider the hospitality Jesus showed, we realize that it is ALWAYS about somebody else. When Jesus came as a baby, on that cold night, it was about somebody else. Hospitality may not always feel good, or be something that we want to do...but it is a posture of the heart, above all else. It is an attitude that says, 'I am going to care for those in front of me with whatever means that I have. I will give the best of myself to serve another, whether it's a bottle of perfume or two pennies.' Hospitality is caring for someone with what you have in your hands, with selflessness and generosity.
"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace" 1 Peter 4:8-10
"Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality." Romans 12:13
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2
"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ " Matthew 25: 34-16
Hospitality is close to the heart of God. Whether you are a guest or a host, let us choose to operate in the selflessness of Christ this Christmas.