26 Oct Hospitality and Absorbing One Another’s Sin
Before we dive into some musings below, I wanted to share a fun idea with you since we’re focusing on hospitality this month.
My friends, Lauren and Joel, recently tried a new way of extending hospitality by throwing out four dates to a large group of people in the hopes of creating some impromptu mix-and-match dinner parties. They offered dinner and brunch options, weekend and weekday, and sent the invite to a large group of friends, only some of whom were acquainted with each other. I like the idea of connecting friends who may not know each other, and I really like the idea of just throwing out a bunch of dates since wrangling schedules with a small group of people can be a headache.
Back to the topic at hand– as we dwell on hospitality, I’ve been thinking about what it looks like to live wide-open and spacious lives, lives of welcome, warmth, and grace. These are such nice words, right? They make us feel cozy and benevolent because we all want to be hospitable. We want to embody a spirit of welcome, to be somebody’s safe place, and open our doors to the bedraggled stranger.
Hospitality is lovely, but somebody’s gotta do the work! That dinner’s not going to make itself and those guest bed sheets are not yet self-washing (please, somebody invent those). Yet living hospitably is a worthy endeavor, a godly pursuit, and biblically nonnegotiable.
Hospitality is not just an external exercise. We frequently think of hospitality as outward facing, inviting the people out there in here, but hospitality begins at home, in our hour-by-hour responses to the demands placed upon us by our people. We are presented daily with tiny, often inconvenient choices to extend grace and show hospitality to our own families.
As I’ve shared, we recently moved to California and we’re staying with my parents until we get settled. We have no idea how long we’ll be here or where we’ll be living next, which is a bit daunting. My parents have graciously welcomed us into their beautiful home and we are so grateful to have a soft landing while we get ourselves sorted.
Combining two households can be a tricky undertaking. Very few families live multi-generationally anymore, and more than a few people have told me to expect the worst. I’ve been thinking a lot about our setup, trying to keep my expectations sober while my natural optimism is shouting, “It’s going to be great! You should even think about putting one of those tiny houses in their backyard!” (Ok, maybe I just want a tiny house. They are so cool.)
Seriously though, didn’t families all live together for thousands of years until recently? Maybe not in perfect harmony, but it certainly worked for some. We’re not trying to do something unheard of by staying with my parents, but we are embarking on uncharted territory for our family.
Absorbing One Another’s Sin
As I’ve been preparing my heart for our move, I’ve been considering what it looks like to live hospitably with my own family, as a daughter/guest in my parents’ home.
A few weeks ago, my friend Katie mentioned the phrase “absorbing one another’s sin,” and it seems like the practice of absorbing one another’s sin would be a handy one to pursue as we adjust to living together. We often think of becoming like Christ as pursuing meekness, humility, and service. Christ embodied all these traits, but you know what else he did?
He absorbed our sin.
He gave grace to the people who spat on him, who kicked him while he carried the cross, and who mocked his deity, brutally wounding his body and taking his life. He gave them grace instead of their just deserts. (Click here for a helpful explanation of the oft-misunderstood term: just deserts.)
Jesus forbore his right to demand justice when wronged; he practiced restraint and otherworldly compassion. He sacrificed himself for humanity’s sin, absorbing every wrong ever committed, and we are called to be like him.
If we endeavor to be like Christ, then we need to think seriously about absorbing one another’s sins. This may look like turning the other cheek, or refusing to take offense, even in the face of blatant provocation. It might look like emptying the dishwasher, again, even though it’s definitely not your turn. It might look like apologizing, even when you don’t think you were wrong, because being “right” will create unnecessary conflict.
Whatever absorbing one another’s sin looks like for us, we need to ask the Holy Spirit for the patience and the grace to do it. We need to make a conscious decision to live hospitably, not only externally, but internally, within the walls of our own homes.
I have a feeling I’ll be meditating on this concept for many months, as well as trying to put it into practice. What does absorbing one another’s sin look like for you this week? Where is the Lord giving you opportunities to grow in this holy habit?
Have any of you ever lived with extended family? Care to share your tips or experiences?