Monday, December 15, 2014

A Good Guest

Welcome mat 2
Christmas seems to be the most popular time of year to have guests.  In the last month alone, I have been in the homes of at least 7 different people.  There are parties and cookie exchanges, not to mention the on-going rounds of visiting the sick and Bible study.  I hope I've been a good guest.

I've had some bad ones at my house over the years.  People who weren't gracious.  People who needed to be served or entertained.  People who were dissatisfied with everything.  People who left without picking up a glass, throwing away their trash, or worrying about their muddy footprints.

You might be surprised to find out that Jesus actually had quite a lot to say about how to be a good guest.  We've covered his words on not being a prideful guest before, however there are a few more suggestions.

1. Greet your hosts:  In Matthew 10 and Luke 10 Jesus instructs the disciples as he sends them out as forerunners to give their greetings to their host.  Specifically Jesus instructs them to say, "Peace be to this house." (Luke 10:5) Sent out without bag, belt, cash, and extra clothes, the only two things these itinerant teachers have to offer are their message and this blessing. Though it would seem strange for an American to greet their host with these exact words, there is certainly a cultural parallel in the kind and polite words with which we greet our hosts.  Compliments and questions that encourage your host to talk about their family and their home (not the nosy kind of question- the kind where you let them brag on their grandchildren!) always go over well.

2. Eat what's set in front of you: Jesus tells those he sent out to eat and drink whatever they are given. (Luke 10:7) We can easily see the application.  Whether we are at home or abroad, we must be a guest who accepts with grace and eats with gusto.  In this we are not only polite, we parallel these other messengers who went out to say that the Kingdom of God is at hand.  It may be "not to your taste" but it is crucial to smile and eat!  (I say this as a former missionary; I can match you story for story on the strange things I've eaten with a smile.)

3. Follow the golden rule (Matthew 7:12): It seems terribly obvious, but when you are a guest, behave the way you wish others would act in your home.  Be warm.  Pick up your own stuff.  Pitch in (think Jesus and the wedding at Cana if you need inspiration). Neither notice the dust nor talk about it next Sunday! Help keep the conversation going!  Don't leave your towel on the bathroom floor!  And don't nose around in the medicine cabinet. 

4. Be willing to be the guest of those who might otherwise be rejected.  Zacchaeus is more than a hilarious song (what's up with "For I'm going to your house today?" That doesn't rhyme!!!). Jesus, knowing I suppose, that Zacchaeus didn't have the moxy to invite the Rabbi for lunch invited himself.  While few of us have the status or the guts to invite ourselves to dinner, we can gently make it plain that we don't feel anyone is beneath us and that we are happy to eat with the single in the studio apartment, the family in the double wide trailer, and the aging widow in her aging home! 

As Christmas approaches whether it be an ugly sweater party, a dirty Santa exchange or the office Christmas party, be a good, no a great guest by following Jesus' advice!


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