Hospitality (Part 1 of 2)

sitting alone

“When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw (Jesus) eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ ” (Mark 2:16, NIV).

It bothers me when, in a social setting, I see someone sitting alone.  I’ve witnessed this on numerous occasions, even at church dinners hosted by well-meaning Christians.  Now, I understand that, on occasion, this is simply the result of chance, a musical chairs type of thing.  Still, more often than not, it’s a reflection of either our inability or our unwillingness to be hospitable to one another.

Let’s assume that the letting-someone-sit-alone scenario occurs only because we lack the necessary ability to co-mingle.  I’ve discovered that a simple “hello”, a personal introduction, and some general interest in listening to what the person has to say go a long way toward a fluid conversation.  What we don’t want to do, in my opinion, is to lead with some sort of creepy Christian Jesus talk with the obvious agenda of winning that person for the Kingdom of Christ.  We’re simply trying to do the right thing here as civil human beings.  Our efforts at inclusiveness will likely result in meeting someone new, who may, in fact, be more like ourselves than we initially thought.

If, on the other hand, we see ourselves at an elevated status and the lone-sitter as someone of lesser value, we have a lot to consider.  The elementary school, concern of cooties approach, is not cool when put into practice in adulthood.  It’s important that we put our own motivations, and possible discomfort, aside and make the person sitting alone feel welcome and part of the group.

I guess I’m on my soapbox here, because I’ve been the lone-sitter in a crowded room.  And it’s awful!  And if you’re honest, I imagine that you’ve been in this position as well, at least once or twice in your lifetime.  Tomorrow, we’ll look at how Jesus handled situations such as these.  We can learn a lot from him!

4 thoughts on “Hospitality (Part 1 of 2)

  1. My adopted Mom taught me a wonderful life lesson many years ago. I trust, assuming she can, she’s looking down from heaven and smiling when her children still apply that lesson. The lesson? “Greet everyone with a smile and a kind word. You never know when you’re entertaining an angel.” Now I’m not sure I’ve met a lot of angels, but perhaps more than I’ve realized in this life. And while I do a good job of maintaining situational awareness these days (the world is a lot scarier than it was 50 years ago), I still do my best to practice what mama taught. To do that, I make an assumption that everyone starts on equal footing with me; they are a friend. Some become actual friends. A few become dear friends. Even fewer become “family”; and yes, a large number fall away from “friend” status. Still, as mama would say, “everyone deserves to be treated with respect and hospitality.” Thanks for this great reminder sir.

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