Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bedouin Hospitality

So we were hiking in Israel & came upon a Bedouin (Muslim) community. We asked if we could join them & they very quickly said yes. A few observations-first, the women immediately broke out a fire & cooked us some bread and hot tea. Second, the kids and women tried to communicate with us. We were welcome to stay for a long time. I found out later that we could have probably stayed for up to 3 days...all 18 of us. After 3 days they would start to put less sugar in the tea, which would be a hint that our time to stay had come to an end. However, we didn't stay for more than an hour.
These people didn't know us. We were of a different religion, custom, culture & who knows what our "business" was. However, in that culture, you take in guests because you never know if God is sending you a messenger.
In the Bible you see this with Abraham & Sarah (Genesis 18). You see this principle taught in Hebrews 13:2 and Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Peter 4:9 and more. Jesus taught that we are to even love our enemies (Matt. 5:43-44)and that a faithful person needs to invite strangers in (Matthew 25:35). Having strangers stay in your home should be normal for Christians; we should look forward to it.

Excuses people give to not obey Christ in this area:
1. But what if they are dangerous? Then use common sense.
2. But they may steal something! So what. Then hide what is valuable to you. Better yet, sell the stuff that is expensive and give to the poor. What about being more concerned with saving something...their soul?.
3. But I am not a person who likes guests. Well, grow up in your faith. Hospitality (which means inviting strangers in) is a normal Christian thing. Chances are you have bought into some of our cultures problems. You need to spend some time with the Lord and work this out so that you are one who likes guests, or at least is open to having strangers in when an opportunity comes.
4. But they might be dirty. Probably. That is why God gave you money. You can clean the stuff AFTER they leave.
5. But God has called me to be a good steward of my stuff & this is bad runs the risk of damage. See #2. I personally think that Christians should put less value on stewardship & much more value on people and advancing his kingdom.
6. What might people think? Well, this would set a great example for you to follow.
7. I don't have the time. Perhaps we US people should be less busy and "tithe" our time to do things such as these.
8. I am out of town. That is understandable.
9. There are more important things to focus on. No, I disagree. People are to be #2 on our list of important things. Remember what Jesus said about the sheep & the goats. This is a common conservative Christian response. Well, we aren't called to be conservative but generous.
A good illustration of this is the Hebrew Bible law. Farmers were to leave the corners of their crops for the poor. In other words, they weren't to harvest all the stuff they planted. That way they could help care for the poor.

Hospitality is a great way to care for your neighbors & to share the love of Jesus with them. Who knows, they may accept Jesus because of YOU. And who knows, they just may be an angel or more yet, Jesus.

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