Do you have a spare room in your house?
When we bought our house in 2012, we looked forward to having a third bedroom where we could offer guests a place to stay. At the time, I imagined our home as a place where dozens of out-of-town visitors would find hospitality and a quiet place to sleep.
This has not quite worked out the way I hoped.
Our spare room, in reality, is a dumping ground for all the extra stuff that doesn’t seem to belong anywhere else in the house.
The double bed we thought would always be ready for a tired visitor is now buried under assorted junk we tossed there. The closet where we thought guests would hang their clothes is stuffed to the top with our own odds and ends. The floor is covered with piles of stuff everywhere.
We’ve had a few close friends and relatives stay in the room over the last five years, but nowhere close to the variety of strangers and travelers I imagined back in 2012.
This spare room is the perfect metaphor for what is ailing us.
We have so much stuff–and we always have easy excuses for wanting more–that we don’t have energy, room, or time for anything but…our stuff! We’re so preoccupied with getting more stuff and trying to do something with the stuff we already have that we don’t have room in our lives for hospitality.
And I believe hospitality is the defining characteristic of Christianity.
When Jesus taught his apprentices to love their neighbors, strangers, and even enemies, he wasn’t talking about a feeling. He was talking about action. He was talking about showing hospitality.
The more stuff we have, the less room we have for the kind of life that Jesus calls us to live. A life of abundant hospitality. A life with plenty of time for doing things for neighbors and strangers. A life of less consumption and more generosity.
How would our lives change if we got rid of our stuff and made room for people? How would our world change?
Can we do it in 2018?