"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man (or woman) of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I count this as one of my life verses. It is a key to my understanding of the gifts God has given me to serve Him in the body of Christ. Why, then, am I so surprised when I get hit over the head with a passage of Scripture and realize where I need to adjust my thinking or behavior?
Today my friend Diane was teaching the women out of James 2:1-13. As she eloquently unpacked this passage, our table discussion focused on the tendency of our culture to look down on the poor and elevate the rich, but my thoughts started taking me to a slightly different place. Yes, it still had to do with the disparity between rich and poor, but it wasn't about my behavior toward one class or the other but really to all classes.
It dawned on me that I have a hang up about my own perceived social status that has prevented me from doing something that I know I need to practice. I have been reluctant to open my home to others because I am afraid that THEY will look down on ME because we live in a rental home that is not as pristine and modern as some of the homes we have been invited to by others in the church.
So I am still making a distinction between classes, by my own behavior. Instead of offering the best seat to a particular class, I am offering a seat to neither class, and being disobedient to the word of God which calls for me to be hospitable. It isn't that I haven't had people into my home since we've lived here. It's that I have been very guarded about whom I have invited, and under what circumstances.
In any case, the root sin is pride. I have been too proud to open my home for fear I won't be acceptable to the body of Christ. I have been too proud to welcome genuine believers into my home because I don't have faith in them to see my home for what it is ~ a blessing from the Lord. Truly it is, for I have a lovely view of Mt. Rainier on the sound AND for less than $1000 a month! The story of how we came to live here was penned by a magnificent God.
I am deeply humbled to realize that this has been my attitude for two whole years. As much shame as I feel in coming to that realization, I feel compelled to write about it. I have had many conversations lately about authentic fellowship, genuine love in the body, and just plain vulnerablility. If I can't admit that my thinking has been this skewed, confess it as sin, and move on to begin the practice of hospitality anew ~ well I might as well hang up my crown before I ever have a chance to cast it at the feet of my Savior, because He will surely have to say 'I never knew you.'
You know Scripture also says 'Pride goes before a fall.' Well, during our table discussion I had also gone on and on about how when we moved here I laid aside my fears about making new friends to insert myself in this particular body like I never had before, determined to be accepting and assuming that I would be acceptable because I was among fellow believers. I had people convinced that I was naturally gregarious, assuming that I had never felt social discomfort. I now see that I was only going so far to be accepting and wasn't really giving people a chance to accept me.
I think one thing that draws people to the church is the need to feel acceptable at some level. I also think few people ever truly feel that way. Isn't it great to know that our Savior accepts us as we are? He only asks that we accept His saving work on the cross as the sacrifice for our sin. He turns our filthy, blackened, stone-hard hearts into pristine hearts of flesh. Then He takes up residence there to rule in them for eternity.
The prophet Jeremiah tells us that the heart is deceitful above all else and desperately sick. But the Lord says that He searches our hearts and tests our minds. If only we cooperate, through the conviction of His word, His people and His Spirit, we will find ourselves adequate, equipped for every good work. Am I ever thankful for conviction today!
I have a plaque on my wall that hung in our former house that says simply 'Sanctuary' with the verse Mark 6:31 'Come away to a secret place and rest for awhile.' I'm making it my prayer that my home would be perceived this way ~ especially by me! I think I'll ask Diane and her family over for dinner!