What if We Viewed Hospitality as Resistance?

Polarization.

When used in the context of social climate, that's a word I'm not really fond of hearing. But, sadly, it's an accurate description of the current political atmosphere, as well as many discussions of gender, class, race, religion and more.

Many of us can't seem to politely agree to disagree. I can't tell you how many discussions I've had with families who are fractured over political viewpoints. I talk with teachers who have difficulties teaching kids because their schools and school districts are so divided. And, personally, I've experienced a general hostility that threatens church unity and distracts far too many Christians.

True leaders, hospitable leaders, should want to step in and lead a revolution of positive change. You see, in a world that's deeply polarized, hospitality is resistance. So why wouldn't anyone want to be a part of that type of movement – a commitment to radical hospitality?

Our model for this type of movement is Jesus. He led the most powerful change effort ever. Even if you're not a Christian, it's difficult to argue with how Jesus approached leadership. He brought results. And, again, his entire ministry was based on hospitality.

One of the biggest things that stand out about Jesus' approach to leadership is who he welcomed to his table. During that time, eating food with another person was a really big deal. It was a symbol of friendship, intimacy and unity.

And Jesus repeatedly ate with people who were considered to be the worst of the worst. Luke 5:30 says, "The Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, 'Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?'"

Through radical acts of inclusion and hospitality, Jesus attempted to shatter the walls of division that stood between different people during that time. Think about it this way: The only sinless man in history ate and drank with sinners. The religious leaders even accused him of being a "glutton and a drunkard." They considered him to be scandalous, simply because of who he associated with.

"Through radical acts of inclusion and hospitality, Jesus attempted to shatter the walls of division that stood between different people during that time. Think about it this way: The only sinless man in history ate and drank with sinners. "

But the fact that he hung out with sinners isn't why Jesus was such a great leader. He influenced them. He gave them the power to change. He challenged them to become leaders in their own right – and many of them did, igniting a revolution that forever changed the world.

After Jesus was gone, Paul would go on to demonstrate this type of hospitable leadership in many ways. He not only condemned slave traders but he welcomed slaves to his table. He said, "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." He continued carrying on this radical revolution of welcome.

It's so easy to get lost in the rights and the wrongs, the legalism of religion, and forget about Jesus' greatest commandment. Simply put, it was to love God and love others.

Think of how different the world would look today if we put those two directives into action? How much stronger and more unified would we be as a church? In our communities? As a country?

If we want to lead like Jesus, we must truly follow these principles, not just give them lip service. Let's challenge our communities and change our culture by radically loving others and inviting them to our table.

To hospitable leadership!      

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Becky Scholten