1 Peter 4:8-11 (New International Version)
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
Reflection: This was the subject of my pastor’s sermon this past Sunday. It could not be a more relevant and timely message in this day and age and in these times. I often ask myself, as I witness how people treat each other and how families and friends and acquaintances behave in public or just around themselves, what is wrong with the pictures I am seeing? I see bullying, teasing, verbal and physical abuse, I see people closing themselves off from others out of fear and distrust or apparent indifference to other people’s struggles.
I see people believing in harmful myths and negative stereotypes. I see people jumping to false conclusions about their fellow neighbors and fellow human beings solely because it seems like the popular thing to do. I see racism thriving. I see religious intolerance growing and expanding. I see homophobia and transphobia building. It seems to be a popular thing to hate and distrust.
Time and time again though the Bible and many other holy scriptures in the major faiths ask Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike to love one another, to look past the hatred and divisions and divides and differences to come together out of love for a common sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. Love can smother all multitudes of sins and flaws and old grievances. Love can heal so many wounds!
And the way we can best show love for one another is to be hospitable– be welcoming and inclusive. Open not just our hearts but also our doors and our homes to friends and family and strangers alike. A stranger after all, is merely a friend you have yet to make. Take time out of a busy day or busy schedule to welcome someone in need or extend help to those that could use it. Show that you value your community by making others feel equally welcome in it. A community is healthy when it is full of diversity and full of active people looking out for each other.
When did we stop being good neighbors? When did we fear the people we have lived with almost all our lives? When did we stop trusting each other when we all know in our hearts that we all basically seek the same things in life– safe homes, good schools, food on our tables, lively neighborhoods, and places of worship and rest and relaxation. We all want the same things but are we so afraid to work together to build those communities?
Love and hospitality must go hand-in-hand with building better homes, better communities, and better towns and cities. The basic building blocks of any nation or country depends on families full of love and hospitality. We start there in our own homes and share that love and hospitality outward. The world is not meant to be a closed system.