The Glorious Right Angle

The patient husband and I have challenged ourselves to be more purposeful in our practice of hospitality this year — to “meet the stranger at the gate” in our own little rural setting by inviting someone new and different into our home each month.  January was wonderful!  We enjoyed an evening with a couple we’ve worshipped with for a long time, but have never (shame on us!) taken time to get really connected.

Hospitality is really not all about preparing food and vacuuming up the dog hair before the guests arrive.  Karen Mains defines it as “serving people and making them feel welcome and wanted.”  Dorothy Patterson emphasizes hospitality’s “unselfish desire to meet the needs of others.”  Of course, a nice meal and candles on the table created that welcoming environment, but the writer of Hebrews is cheering me along and clarifying my thinking about this practical discipline, basing his encouragement upon the solid foundation of our open invitation to enter the presence of God.  In the first eighteen verses he reviews the amazing provision that comes to us through the offering of Christ’s body.  I’ve highlighted “therefore,” because the rest of the chapter follows from a relationship based upon this understanding and embrace of New Covenant realities highlighted in pink:

Capture
Biblegateway.com has a highlighting feature that makes it possible for you to organize your thoughts as you study a passage!

 

The blue highlighted phrases are God’s invitation to draw near, to live in unwavering hope, and to enter into community for the purpose of maximum love and acts of righteousness.

This summons to community is a demonstration of the exquisite geometry of God’s grace which flows vertically into the life of a believer.  Then, in a healthy community, it keeps on moving at a right angle, bent outward, into the life of another.  This is the “mechanics” behind the work of the Spirit in gifting believers for mutual care:  encouraging, strengthening, warning, comforting one another.  According to I Corinthians 12:8-10, when the church gathers, God gives gifts for whatever needs to be done.  As each one expresses her unique combination of gifts in her own distinct way, the glorious right angle of God’s grace flows and needs are met through love and good works.

  • This is how we draw near to God.  In community, we see God more clearly because He becomes visible in His people.  John Piper challenged his congregation whenever they learned anything new about God to share it with someone else right away!
  • This is how we hold fast in hope.  Amy Carmichael urged her orphanage staff members to “hold one another to the highest” — a most gracious way of saying, “Confront one another about unworthy attitudes, sloppy discipleship, and faithless communication.”

This assumes, of course, that when we gather, each one is in the business of “considering one another,” that is to say,  looking past the end of my own nose to the needs of someone else.  This also assumes a level of interaction that really is not practical in the context of Sunday morning worship.  While Hebrews 10:24, 25 has been used as a call to roll out of bed on Sunday morning and get yourself to church, the work of getting close, staying close, and going deep with one another requires something more.

Hebrews 10:25 ends with an air of urgency, indicating that mutual care may become increasingly essential the further we progress along the arc of redemptive history.  The “perilous times” that Paul predicts in II Timothy are not an excuse to download those plans for a family bunker and then take refuge — unless you invite your neighbors into the bunker with you!  What we see here is a call for an even more intense focus, a greater leaning into the spiritual discipline of fellowship “as you see the Day approaching.”

Will you join me in the challenge to “stir up love and good works” through the ministry of hospitality?  We’re only just beginning, because plans for February didn’t work out.  The couple invited had to cancel:  their adorable granddaughter was born several weeks early!  Nonetheless, we’re committed to reschedule for the month of March.  It’s pretty much a guarantee that the house won’t be as clean as I’d like, but the food will be plentiful, the boys will be rowdy, the socially overwhelming “home-schooled” St. Bernard will be banished to the basement, and we will follow God’s prescription.  We will draw near to Him; we will hold fast to our hope in Him; and we will let His power and blessing flow through us into the lives of others.

**Be sure to share (in the comments section) your plans/goals for mutual care based on Hebrews 10!  You’ll encourage me and others, I’m sure!

Photo credit

Only three weeks left in our study of The Epistle to the Hebrews, a letter to a congregation of struggling Jewish Christians written by an unknown author sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  My Sunday school class and I will be landing on a few verses in each chapter with the goal of getting an overview of this fascinating and complex book.  These mid-week reflections and observations are intended to initiate a deeper pondering of the week’s assignment in preparation for our discussion the following Sunday. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s last week’s blog post.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

41 thoughts on “The Glorious Right Angle”

  1. Hi Michele,
    Visiting today from One Word Coffee and I love how you are putting hospitality into practice! It’s true that it takes time to really connect with others instead of just a hello at church, but so often I’m discouraged by the efforts involved in organizing a gathering. I love that you are pushing aside your reservations and entertaining anyway!

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  2. What a good word! I’m not sure I have really thought about fellowship being a spiritual discipline before – you know, other than actually attending church!

    Love your line: “What we see here is a call for an even more intense focus, a greater leaning into the spiritual discipline of fellowship “as you see the Day approaching.” Increasingly, in these dark times we are living in, we need to “do life” with the saints.

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    1. A spiritual discipline is a way of making room for God and His work in our lives. True fellowship with believers is a means of receiving and giving God’s grace. And, do we ever need it!

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  3. Michele, what a great idea! Although I’m not the most hospitable person around, my husband definitely has that gift! He would invite people over every day if I was ok with it! 😄 There is something special about inviting people over though. The act of welcoming people into our sphere, allows God to move in ways we never knew possible. Who knows, they could become some of our best friends! Neighbors today at Coffee for your heart!

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  4. Your post today has two timely messages for me, Michele. First of all, my quiet time this morning was about seeking support and counsel from other godly believers in my life, which is part of the expression of the “one anothers” you are challenging us to embrace. I also have felt resistant to respond with hospitality to a request of my husband’s recently. We meet with individuals and couples all the time, but usually at a restaurant. However, recently my husband specifically asked to have someone over to our home. Normally that would be fine, but I’ve been busier than usual lately and our house has been a lot less organized and clean as a result. So I suggested we take this person out as well, so I wouldn’t have to do all that cleaning. My husband persisted by saying he would help–which is something he doesn’t usually do and wanted us to have him in our home. I have not given my husband my final answer but with your timely word and so many others I’ve encountered yesterday and today in God’s amazing way of bringing things to my attention, I know I will need to say yes! And that will be a blessing that I did not recognize at first! Thanks for your wisdom, my friend!

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    1. Thanks for sharing this story! Our husbands can be God’s messengers at times, can’t they! So happy to be able to point our hearts in the direction of God’s truth so that our obedience to Him becomes more of a joy!

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  5. Dear Michele … this is a timely, necessary, and important piece. We moved to this new place last summer. Much has kept us from opening our doors. I’m always looking for excuses … and they are quickly coming to an end.

    Thanks for inspiring, for stirring up a longing to live out a life of warmth and hospitality once again.

    Appreciatively …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful, Michelle! Moving as often as we do with the Army, we have to get to know people FAST. And you’re so right – Sunday worship just isn’t conducive to establishing bonds of fellowship that accomplish that mutual accountability and care you encourage here! Thanks for your words today! Blessings!

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  7. This message is something we need to hear unfortunately it is gradually lost in many congregation due to formal worship and sermons
    Not easy to find a community of genuine believers. Hospitality is something to teach our kids.🐩🐁
    Blessings to you friend.

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  8. Your thoughts on hospitality and community give me a lot to think about. It is important to be intentional about going deeper in our relationships. (And I didn’t know you could highlight things in different colours on Bible Gateway- that looks like a useful tool!)

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  9. Michele, this is a wonderful reminder of the importance of showing hospitality. When I’m willing to keep it simple, I’m more likely to have people over. I actually think people feel more comfortable when we’re just ourselves and not putting on a perfect show. They enjoy connecting and feeling loved. I hadn’t thought about how this relates to strengthening the body for His return. Thanks so much!

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  10. i love that passage michele and i love your plans too, to reach out in hospitality to people. it seems to be more and more difficult to have people over, but it is so encouraging to those who are invited! especially if they are lonely, far from home/family, or new to the area. blessings as you move ahead in your challenge:)

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  11. Thank you for this encouragement. Love what you share here: “According to I Corinthians 12:8-10, when the church gathers, God gives gifts for whatever needs to be done. As each one expresses her unique combination of gifts in her own distinct way, the glorious right angle of God’s grace flows and needs are met through love and good works.”

    My husband isn’t a believer (I came back to Christ almost two years ago) and it took me a while to realize that this didn’t prohibit me, as I first thought, to live out the gifts God has given me. It was when I read about the Crooked Manager in Luke 16 that God opened my eyes to look for the opportunities given me and also to look back to see the good works He had already been working through me.

    Loved reading how God is leading you into inviting people into your home to fellowship and how it’s blessed you. So true that it’s not really possible at church on Sunday. Have you ever read “Just Show Up”? This showed me what our church community should look like if we let Christ lead: beautiful.

    My parents were extremely active in hospitality, when I was little. They invited people off the street to live with us, when they were in need and often had large families for dinner, even when we lived in a campervan, when we first arrived in Germany (my parents served as missionaries there). I also love having people over and also love visiting others (I love visiting a refugee family every Thursday- a family God miraculously placed on my path). Thankfully my parents taught me the importance of just being with guests and not worrying so much about having the home spotless or the dinner perfect (because I’m no kitchen princess nor great at keeping things spotless and tidy!).

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  12. Michele,
    I need more time to do this. But I do when I felt led. Lately there has been much on my plate – not food. We will be heading home to Canada soon and that will change for sure. Friends and family will be all around.
    Blessings,
    Janis

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    1. Yes, it’s much easier to practice hospitality in your familiar space.
      Blessings, Janis! Be sure to let us know your travel dates so we call all be praying for you as you transition.

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  13. Aw, I love this idea!! My husband and I love, love, love hosting people for meals, game nights, and any old excuse. I can tell you firsthand what a blessing it is to obey the Lord’s call to hospitality! As someone who has had nowhere to go, known no one within several states’ distance, and been the “new girl” in several churches, I can also say that it is a tremendous blessing to be invited over. Even if after years of kind of knowing someone. Go Morins!!

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  14. I have not been very good at inviting people over, especially over the last few years. Back when we owned our own home, I took pride in cleaning and making sure things were tidy, and I had more time. Now my home is always a mess. I forget sometimes how it’s okay for people to see a few things out of place. People want to feel welcomed in community, not necessarily in a prestinely kept home.

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    1. So so true! Our house is a fixer-upper that is constantly in process. If I waited until it was “good enough,” I’d still be waiting. People just want to be seen and known. That can happen anywhere!

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  15. When my kids were young we had people over a lot, but recently not so much. Our home really is in need of repair and we live in a rural area, so not close to many things. We would like to start having people over again at least once a month. I’ve read books by Edith Schaeffer and Karen Mains that are very encouraging. I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t really matter if my house needs work or everything is not just so, because people come to see us, not our houses, and our job is to make them feel at home as best as we can. That goes a long way to cover the imperfections. When people feel welcome, feel like they are loved and included, they don’t notice the other things so much. Blessings to you, Michele!

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  16. I appreciate your exhortation here, Michele. It makes me think of the description of the early church – how they were meeting together every day and sharing all things in common. That kind of close-knit Christian community isn’t easily afforded in our busy generation, and I believe that’s to our detriment. Thank you for sharing this with us at Grace & Truth!

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    1. So true! And I read that some of the reason the recipients of Hebrews were so tempted to return to Old Covenant practices is that they were not meeting together to encourage one another in New Covenant truth.

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  17. Thank you for the call to hospitality. It has been on my heart for awhile to invite others into my home too and of course I haven’t followed through yet. However, God is not going to let me off so easy so I am hoping that I will be able to share what hospitality looks from me in the future. Blessings as we walk to the cross this week.

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  18. Hi Michele! This is a great reminder on hospitality and its meaning and purpose. Recently, I have not been doing it as much as I had. It seems life got very busy and enough so, that my husband and I felt a need to have our house be a bit quieter than it had been. I know it is time to balance that with times with others at our home as well and your post brought that reminder into view. Thanks!

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    1. Us, too, Pam! We had given ourselves a “break” from having guests in as regularly as we once had because my mum was living with us and it upset her when we had lots of people around. It’s hard to get back into the groove again, but what a great blessing it is to enjoy the process.

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  19. I appreciate these thoughts on hospitality, Michele. So important. And so often our perfectionism sets us back. I love how you are doing something monthly. It’s not too overwhelming, yet you’re actually DOING something. We’ve had guests less frequently here in Dallas than when we were in Turkey, partly because of the distances involved in driving. I didn’t know about the highlighting feature at Biblegateway!

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  20. I love your idea of having someone over at least once a month. I’ve also read Karen Mains. Edith Schaeffer is another one who was an example of showing hospitality. You are right about a Sunday morning worship time not being conducive to really get to know anyone. It’s when you have people in your home that you can go deeper and cultivate relationships. At least that has been our experience. We used to have people over a lot and then went into sort of a dearth, but now we are starting again. Your once a month idea is totally workable. And yes, my home won’t be as clean or as organized as I’d like, but the main thing is to make our guests feel welcome and loved. Thanks for sharing this! Blessings to you. xo

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