I'll be the first to admit I'm no domestic diva, and my husband will just as quickly second it. In the beautiful chaos that is our home, I try to have "a place for everything," but the truth is that everything is rarely in its place. One day, though, I'd had enough. I wanted to be able to sit down after dinner without the pressure of a messy house. I wanted to put my feet up and know nothing needed to be done. So I set my other work aside and devoted the entire day to tackling piles of laundry and cleaning bathrooms. I was in the middle of vacuuming the hall when my kids arrived home from school. My seven-year-old son took one look at the house, a look at me, and without missing a beat, asked, "Who's coming for dinner?"
Despite being domestically challenged, my husband and I try to cultivate an open home. We love how hospitality embodies the welcome of the gospel—how it pictures the feast and rest that awaits us in the Kingdom. And we believe Jesus when he taught that extending hospitality to others means we are extending to him. In Matthew 25:35, He says, "For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home."
But, like any other virtue, hospitality can easily become nothing more than an item on the "To Do" list of our spiritual life:
Be joyful. Check.
Be humble. Check.
Give to the poor. Check.
Be hospitable. Check.
There are many reasons this can happen, but one of the most common ones is that we misunderstand God's purposes in hospitality. We misunderstand what God intends to do, not only through us, but for us as we open our hearts and homes. We forget that hospitality is as much about our own spiritual blessing as it is about blessing others.1