If you are just checking in with us here, I'm going through the book Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others chapter by chapter and sharing what I'm learning as I go along.
Click here to read my thoughts on Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
We've only one more chapter to go after this one! I hope you have been able to glean a few things from these discussions, but even more importantly, I hope you pick up a copy of this book for yourself and really dive into it!
Here we are on Chapter Seven which is entitled, "Hospitality and Culture."
This chapter was written by Lisa Tatlock and it is clear that she and her family have had multiple opportunities to offer hospitality from people of various nationalities. She writes as one who expects and encourages her reader to explore the options that they might have to invite people of other cultures into their home. Tatlock's father was a Navy man and so she lived in multiple countries as she was growing up and experiencing other cultures is a joy and a delight to her. I have a friend who has lived all over the world and as I read this chapter, I speculated that she would be shouting loud "AMENs" all throughout.
I'd kind of like to deviate a little from the book this week and talk about what it means for us to offer hospitality to strangers/wayfarers/people from other cultures we aren't as familiar with in a more practical way (if it can be called 'more practical'.) I just want to scale back from the international scene and talk about home cultures - which can work against us sometimes in causing us to want to withdraw into the familiar instead of reach out to families with different ways of approaching life.
Your family has a culture all its own. What I mean by that is that you do things in certain ways. You have certain habits and practices. You eat certain foods and your collective family manners are predictable. You understand why all the people in your family say and do the things that they say and do. As a home schooler myself, I would argue that if you also home school, your home culture is more pronounced than your public/private school peers and counterparts. You have more time to be a family unit (more secluded) which then forms a particular personality.
It is hard to invite people with different ways of doing things - different cultures - into your home.
One of the most beautiful things about being a part of the body of Christ is that you learn to operate with one another. You learn to work with people who aren't exactly like you and you grow with and compliment each other. To make this personal: the home schoolers should be friends with the public schoolers and vice versa. Each family brings its own spiritual giftings and ways of living to the table. Then we collectively, as a body, sift through and learn how to function with one another effectively - and in a loving manner - for the glory of God.
Home schoolers grouped together, not allowing anyone else to come in and "touch" them risk being remarkably ineffective if they keep to themselves. Likewise, the public schoolers who choose not to associate with homeschoolers will also be lacking a significant source of inspiration and determination if they ignore people who think more outside the box. Like I said - we each have our own giftings and talents to bring to the table. We risk potentially great sources of encouragement and creativity when we look for those who mirror us as closely as possible. Worse than that, we risk crippling the body of Christ as a whole.
We need each other, working together, for the glory of God. It's not about who home schools and who doesn't. It's not about how many kids Jane has and how many kids Mary doesn't have. It's not about whether or not you are married or still single, whether you work a part-time job or are a full-time stay at home mom. It's about God and working together to further His kingdom here on earth.
We get so caught up in our mini cultures that we think we can only invite people over who are "just like us." Certainly it's easier to make and stay friends with people who share our same visions and goals. It's human nature to want to come along side a sympathetic friend. But this is the command:
"Do not forsake the assembling of the saints."
It doesn't say, "Do not forsake the assmebling of the saints who are just like you." The list of cultural differences between families and their preferences is endless. (I'm not talking about sin issues here. I'm talking about choice of basic lifestyles which create cultures unto themselves.)
So I would expand this chapter to say - invite someone outside of your family's particular culture INSIDE to enjoy their fellowship, minister unto them (who knows! A friendly relationship may spring up and you'll come to a place where you are more likeminded than you are initially!), bless them, encourage them, build them up. Do not forsake them but understand that the body needs eyes and ears, toes and elbows, cheeks and pinky fingers.
There is certainly SIN to be avoided. We've already talked about how we need to take care to protect our families while we're practicing hospitality and to be wise in who we seek to fellowship with. We definitely need to be discerning but what we do not need to be is discriminating on these "culture issues." We need to remember what the heart of the matter is and I'll let Tatlock speak on this point:
"At this point, some of you may be thinking - only missionaries need to consider culture; why discuss culture in a book on hospitality? However, if hospitality lovingly meets the needs of others, how can this goal be accomplished if we do not understand cultural differences? I would like to suggest tha thospitality is missions. Hospitality is a tool you can use to love people and make "disciples of all nations" of the world (Matt. 28:18-20). Consideration of culture is a key element in practicing hospitality as you endeavor to model Christ's love - so "that they may be saved" (1 Cor. 10:33)." (Chapter 7, page 200)And that really is the heart of the matter.