There is nothing like it, it’s the best. When you walk into the door after being away for a long trip, you see the things that make you uniquely you in order and in its place, “Yep, there is my Xbox One and my record collection… all there.” It’s even comforting when the house smells like your remember it.
When I come home, I know that I’m in the right place—I feel like I have discovered who I am once again. Devin and I often say that we feel like we can breathe again, that we’re in a place where we’re alive and known.
However, I’ve realized…
Many of us, it’s a fleeting feeling to truly feel home as if you’re doing the right thing, or in the right place.
Isn’t it true that one of the cruel ironies of life is that you can be surrounded by thousands of people and still feel anonymous?
When walking down the street you can feel as though people are looking past you, as though you don’t matter.
Or maybe in the office when your boss walks by your cubicle and doesn’t even stop to acknowledge you.
Maybe it’s in a relationship that you’ve been in before or are currently in, where you don’t feel heard, or loved.
Maybe it’s a time where you really wanted to feel validated and empathized with during a vulnerable time, but no one was willing to give that to you.
We have all felt anonymous and without purpose, outside of our home.
We have a choice, we can be anonymous and make others feel anonymous—or we can make others known and be known, as though they are in the right place.
Hospitality is fundamental in others experiencing a place (or home) for them to be known. Creating space for others to be known entails using our unique gifts to offer life to others. When we use our gifts, people we encounter are taken from a place of anonymity (that feeling we’re all too familiar with) to a place of life.
This is why offering hospitality is so important and central to a Jesus mandate of neighborly living. It was important to Jesus to call people to the place they belong and he compelled His followers to follow suit.
In 2 Kings 4:8-17 there is an amazing story of mutual hospitality.
Elisha was a prophet who often traveled through Shunem. He met a wealthy woman who understood the importance of hospitality to strangers and neighbors. She convinced her husband to literally make room for this stranger prophet and to feed him.
After a series of conversations, Elisha wanted to repay the hospitality of the strong woman with hospitality in his own way. So, he prophesied over the barren woman, a mark of shame in the Jewish tradition, that she would have a child.
I love this story because it is so different than our experience of being anonymous.
Many people we encounter live a “me first life,” and you can’t really blame them. It is how we’re wired; it is what we’ve been taught to do.
We make it easy for others to feel anonymous and without a home.
This story reminds us.
Creating a home brings people to their true Home.
In other words, by creating a place for someone to move from anonymous to being known, we are giving him or her an opportunity to be a part of something bigger, something closer to what they’ve been designed for.
For our Shumen friend, it meant using her gift of hospitality to make her home more life-giving for Elisha.
For Elisha, it meant using his gift of prophecy to bring about NEW life in the Shumen woman—to have the shame of barrenness quite literally taken away and brought to a place of hope.
Could you imagine what it would feel like to have space made for you?
Maybe you’re like Elisha and have been traveling or feel like you haven’t been “home” in a long time and just need someone to recognize your gifts and who you are. Maybe you’re like the Shumen woman, ashamed, lifeless, without hope.
This is what the church should be about, creating space for people to use their gifts for one another and our city and towns, so that people are known in a place that they can call “home.” We worship a God that desperately wants to rewrite our story of being anonymous to a story of being known. When we use our gifts to create space for others to know and use their gifts, we are essentially bringing them home to exactly the place and person God has designed them to be.
We all have gifts that we bring to the table; we are on equal footing with one another and our ability to make homes, places where people experience life.
When everyday, ordinary, common people, as Elisha and The Shumen woman, use their gifts (even for one another), we move closer to creating the home that God intended creation to live in. A place where hope reigns, a place where life is received and given, a place where we have a name and a purpose.
You and I, everyday, ordinary, common people have gifts and talents that we can use to offer people hospitality and life.
Who has God called you to create a home for? Who has God called you to give life to?