In the opening chapters of Genesis we see God play the role of generous host. He creates His good world in abundance. There is no lack for food, shelter, or drink. Yet His human partners refuse to see God as generous host, and instead take the fruit from the only tree denied them, thinking that surely God must be withholding from them.
This sets off a chain of events leading to violence and destruction. And at the heart of all of this chaos is often a seed of doubt, convinced that there isn’t enough for me and mine. God however isn’t a God of scarcity, but of abundance.
He demonstrates this throughout the Genesis narratives, caring for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph out of his abundance. In the book of Exodus the people of God are rescued from the clutches of an evil empire and set off on a journey to a land flowing with milk and honey: a land of abundance. But the people, so rooted in the Empire-narratives of scarcity and greed, can’t properly imagine a land that cares for their needs. So they grumble and complain. Even at the gates of their promised hope, presented with abundance (see Numbers 13), the people of Israel choose scarcity.
This corruption of the human heart was so pervasive, that God performed the ultimate act of generosity. He sent his only Son, Jesus, to empty himself of his divinity and take up flesh. Jesus spent his time on earth preaching and demonstrating radical generosity which was rooted in an imagination of the Creator God as generous host, freely sharing what He has with others. Jesus taught his followers in Luke 12:22-34:
And he said to his disciples, “For this reason I tell you, don’t be anxious about your life, what you will eat; and don’t be anxious about your body, what clothes you put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Ponder the ravens, for they don’t sow seed or reap a harvest; they have no storerooms or barns, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add an hour to his life’s span? And if you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Ponder the lilies, how they grow: they don’t toil or spin clothes; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will he clothe you? You who trust God so little! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and don’t foster your anxiety. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be granted to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
Sell your possessions and give to the poor; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus gave the ultimate gift. His very life. His demand of radical generosity on his followers is a reflection of his own self-giving love.
Hospitality is one way of practicing Jesus self-giving love by playing host in the same way that God serves as generous host for all mankind. Remember that this is not a time for you to show off or start your burgeoning restaurant business. This is an opportunity to serve someone and demonstrate your love for them.
Invite someone into your home for a meal which you prepare (no take out for this one).
While inviting friends over is always delightful, use this time meet someone new, or care for someone in need, especially single mothers, single folks without family nearby, and immigrants.