It's Not Your House!
I may have mentioned that I had said my final words on the subject of inviting ourselves over to other people’s homes. If I did say that I apologize, because I have one thing left to say!
As you recall, I recently asked whether or not it is rude for a person to invite himself to another person’s house. In the subsequent discussion I was quite shocked to hear how many Christians feel that this is a rude practice. It would never really occur to me that to ask myself to another person’s home is rude. I am not suggesting, of course, that I would call a person I barely know and say, “Hey, I’m coming over with the family. We’ll be there in an hour and will be staying for dinner.” I will grant that this example might be rude since I am not taking into consideration the fact that people have their own plans, their own lives. However, I see absolutely nothing rude in saying, “Hey, we’d like to get to know you guys better. Can we come by for lunch after church some Sunday?” I am extending an invitation to get to know the people better, but am suggesting (for whatever reason) that we do it at their home rather than mine. I do not feel that this is rude. Let me explain why.
Your house is not your own. It’s true, you know. Everything you have is a gracious gift of God and is given to you by God to be used for His purposes. This applies not only to your money but to your possessions. Your house is God’s. Just as we are expected to be faithful stewards of our financial resources, we are to be faithful stewards of our houses. And so I ask, when was the last time you allowed God to use your house to reach out to others? Do people feel welcome in your house? Do they feel that they can invite themselves to your house for counsel, fellowship or a couple of eggs they need to finish a birthday cake?
One of the highest purposes of Christians is to extend hospitality and friendship to others. I feel this will increasingly be a mark of followers of Christ. In a culture where individuals are becoming ever more individualistic and families are ever-more retreating into their own lives, Christians will be marked as people who graciously and cheerfully extend hospitality to others. Christian houses will be marked as being ones with open doors, where invitations are extended and expected. This is the type of house I grew up in. It is the type of house I have grown to love.
Your time is not your own. In the same way God gives us money and expects us to use it faithfully and wisely, He gives us time and expects us to use it in a way that brings honor to Him. We must not allow ourselves to become selfish with our time. We need to invest in others and make them feel that they are so important to us that we will give them of our precious time. Do people feel that they can presume upon your time? Do they feel that you are available to them if they have questions or concerns or if they need to learn how to use those eggs to bake that birthday cake? Or do they feel that to use your time is to cause you inconvenience and that you are hesitant to make time in your schedule for them?
Your home is not your own. In another recent article I differentiated between a house and a home to show what a thrill and what an honor it is that the Holy Spirit makes His home within us. “There is a difference between a house and a home, isn’t there? A newly constructed neighborhood not far from me advertises ‘homes beginning in the low 300’s.’ But they aren’t really selling homes, are they? They are selling houses. A house only becomes a home when a person lives in it and when it begins to take on the personality of the inhabitants. An empty house is just a shell. It is much like a dead human body. It is a body, but it is not a person.” A home is also a gracious gift of God. The gifts, personalities and talents of the various inhabitants combine to make a home what it is. All of these are given by God and He expects us to be faithful stewards of them.
Is your home open to others? Do you allow people not only past the door of your house but also in your home? Do you invite people into your living room, the formal room immediately beside the front door, or do you invite them into the kitchen where you can be less formal and extend more intimate hospitality? Do people feel they can come to your home only for formal Bible studies or can they come to your home for a personal chat or simply companionship? Do people feel they can drop by at a moment’s notice or do they wait to receive a formal invitation?
Here’s the rub. I just could not help but feel that in discussing this subject people were displaying an attitude that seemed to suggest that their home is their domain and that others do not have a right to presume upon it. I do not feel that this is a biblical attitude. Your house, your time and your home are not yours! They belong to God and ought to be fully surrendered to Him.
It is my hope that people feel they can invite themselves over to my home. I hope they feel that I am willing and eager to use my gifts and talents and time to bless them in whatever way I can. I hope people see that my house and my home and my life have an open door.