Monday, May 14

Life in Christ

My sermon notes this week included a reference to Lydia, a dealer of purple cloth whom Paul preached to in Acts 16:14-15. "The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, 'If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.' And she prevailed upon us."

Jack highlighted how the gospel evoked in her a sense of hospitality and openness to others. Hospitality is insists that we push our own agendas aside for the sake of others. Jack mentioned that "participation in hospitality is participation in the life of God" and this got me thinking about God's life in the Trinity. In Engaging God's World Plantinga writes,

"At the center of the universe, self-giving love is the dynamic currency of the trinitarian life of God. The persons within God exalt each other, commune with each other, defer to one another. Each person, so to speak, makes room for the other two. I know it sounds a little strange, but we might almost say that the persons within God show each other divine hospitality. "

He then goes on to talk about how hospitality means that we "make room for others and then help them flourish in the room you have made."

And then I started thinking to myself, "Man, how many interpersonal problems stem from a lack of hospitality?" I can't make room for some peoples' crazy personalities. I'm envious of some people and I don't want to make room for them and help them flourish because I want what they have. I'm stinking self-absorbed because I think there is only room for me, me, me. I don't want to make room again for people who have hurt me. And on and on.

And isn't one of the biggest barriers to a relationship with God a lack of hospitality and perpetual self-absorption? The idea of being forever self-giving and exalting others is so far removed from our propencity toward selfishmess. And yet, the book of Acts tells us that a little taste of grace should evoke in us the desire to participate in the life and love of God, making room for others as God makes room for us.

In Phillipians 2 Paul says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others as better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." And then the next section goes on to talk about Christ's humility. This sounds really funny, but I've always been kind of fuzzy on what humility actually entails. Not bragging? Not showing off? Shrugging off compliments? But a couple of months ago I went to mass with my roommate and her friend just because I had never been to a Catholic mass, and the priest at IHM finally gave me a working definition: "Humility is using your gifts to help others."

So if hospitality is making room for others and humility is how we use our gifts to help them flourish, these two go hand-in-hand. I almost feel like we should smush them together: hospimility. :) Or not.

Which brings me to my obligatory "ah-ha!" moment. "Ooohhhh! I get it! That's why Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and said, 'Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.' Because what we do for others reflects our participation in the life of God because God is communal within God's self!" Well that only took me 21 years to figure out.

And I leave you with St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

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