There are many ways to mark and identify a Christian life. Our lives can either clearly share the grace and love of God or they can dimly reflect the light of Christ. Among these marks of a Christian life, humility and hospitality are two that Jesus teaches us to have. He not only teaches us to have them, but he also lives with such humility and hospitality that all people have a welcomed place with him.
One place in scripture that Jesus teaches about humility and hospitality is Luke 14. At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus tells a parable about a dinner party. He says that when you go to a dinner party you should sit at a lower place. When someone else comes to the party, a place of honor will be available to them. Or, the host may ask you to move up from the lower place and sit at a more important place at the table. Jesus summarizes this by saying, “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).
At first glance, some people might think that Jesus is just giving practical advice about table etiquette. However, his message has a much deeper meaning than that. Like many of his other parables, there is a more profound message than the symbolic one we find at the surface. As Christians, I believe that we need to take Christ’s advice for dinner etiquette and translate that to guide our church etiquette. Just like at that dinner party, we need to leave room for others. Even when those other people that are unexpected. We need to make sure there is a welcoming place for all people in the church so that all can experience and know God grace and love.
Furthermore, we ought to make sure that all people know that there is a place of welcome and honor for them at the Lord’s Table. If we live as the disciples Jesus called us to be and if we live as the disciples we claim to be, it will be clearly shown in our humility and hospitality we have as the church and at the Lord’s Table.
We need to make sure there is a welcoming place for all people in the church so that all can experience and know God grace and love.
I recently heard a story that reminded me of this deep humility and hospitality we are to live with. As the story goes, there was a farmer that grew award-winning corn. Every year he would enter an ear of his corn in the produce competition at the state fair and every year he would take home the blue ribbon. One year after again winning the prize, a reporter asked the farmer what the secret was to growing this blue-ribbon corn.
The farmer’s answer was a surprising lesson in plant propagation. He said that every year he would share the seed of the corn he wished to grow with his neighbors. The reporter was stunned, knowing that those neighbors would also enter the competition with intentions of winning. The farmer went on to explain that as the wind blew through the fields, it would pick up pollen from the ripening corn and carry it from place to place. The wind did not care about property lines separating one field from another. If the neighbors grew an inferior variety of corn, over time it would diminish the quality of the variety the farmer wished to grow. The farmer summarized the technique by saying, “If I want to grow the best corn, I have to help my neighbors grow the best corn too.”
I believe that Jesus is trying to teach us a similar lesson. In order to get the most out of life and live as Jesus called us to live, we have to help our neighbors live their best life too. One way we do this is by living with humility and hospitality. In so doing, all people will know that they have a place of welcome and honor in church and at the Lord’s Table. So, what do people see when they look at us? Is it good corn? Or are we letting our neighbors fail? May humility and hospitality mark our lives as Christians for the glory of God and welling-being of our neighbors.
With peace and love, Pastor Adam