Sobremesa xviii.

Hunkered down or hospitable?

Sobremesa (after-meal, table-talk) is hospitality's right arm. Hospitality is Christianity’s right arm. 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers… Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated. (Hebrews 13:2-3, ESV)

Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? (2 Corinthians 11:29, ESV)

It’s a suffering, unredeemed world out there… so many people who need Christian hospitality extended to them. Real Christian living means attending to real human plights screaming in our ears and pounding on our gates.

How can we possibly politicize human suffering? Jesus didn’t. 

He was…a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:3-4, ESV)

We can’t fix the unspeakable miseries fleshed out in living color before our eyes every day. But Jesus can. He found his way to the bottom of the pile… got himself underneath every last gram of pain in every human heart. He bore the weight of it all in his body on the cross… paid for our sin… bought our redemption… infinite, perfect love.

He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him. (Hebrews 7:25, ESV)

The Gospel is still good news! Through the sacrifice and resurrection of the Son, the indescribable depths of deprivation and tragedy can be assuaged forever.

Barbarity, fanaticism and injustice will be part of our story until Jesus returns. In the meantime, we have an example to follow. As Jesus opened the gates of heaven to us, we should open our hearts and homes to others.

Christ-like people live out Christ-like compassion.

Like it or not, the real world has invaded our comfort zone.  It’s no longer enough to be comfortable in a comfortable church, sitting comfortably with family and friends who make us feel more comfortable… praying for God’s mercy to shore up the comfort we’ve come to see as normal. Maybe we should check ourselves into rehab… seek help to get clean from our addiction to personal security and comfort.

Who needs our hospitality? My list starts with people in transition in their spiritual journey, people in crisis, the homeless, victims of natural disasters, immigrants with no safe place to be, refugees uprooted from their homeland—pawns in other people’s viciousness. 82,000,000 and counting…!

Hunkered down or hospitable?

We all get to choose. We can bar the gates and hunker down in total defensive mode. We can choke on false narratives regarding immigrants. It doesn’t even take a Christian to do that. Or we can choose to extend our personal hospitality to others in need. It’s what Jesus followers do. The loving action of taking someone in yields life-changing blessings with eternal consequences. It’s a chance for another soul to meet our Savior.

Sobremesa is risky business. It stretches us beyond what we choose. It leads us into more deeply committed levels of hospitality. We will be compelled to serve others beyond the confines of coffee and pastry at our convenience.

We should always remember how quickly it could be our turn to be destitute… suddenly dependent on the mercy of other human beings to survive. How exceedingly grateful we would feel toward anyone who helped us!

Now is not the time to hunker down. Now more than ever, people we were intended to reach with the Gospel are showing up on our doorsteps. Do we shun them? Or do we thank God for the opportunity to love and serve them?

Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14, ESV) 

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