3 thoughts on “Prayer to direct my work to the Lord based on Colossians 3:23-24

  1. I sent out an email seeking prayers yesterday to a handful of friends and church leaders. Since I don’t connect with you via email, I figured I would copy and paste to your comments on the blog. I welcome prayers from your readers as well, I reckon.

    Thanx for being the praying kind. I have benefited from your prayers before.


    I have spent the last two years (maybe just year and a half) learning about heaven’s hospitality. (My term for it, but I probably need to make some distinctions because I am starting to form categories in my mind such as: biblical hospitality, Bedouin hospitality, Christian hospitality, and heaven’s hospitality. Though there is significant overlap, there are unique things to be considered under each of those terms.) And I have begun, over the last month, to write after a year’s worth of research and thinking.

    I learned a lot during 2019, exponentially more than I knew going into this study. I had a few bits of it, as does anyone, I think, but then it did not seem all that important, really, nor did I see how much the Bible talks about it, presents it, and how pervasively and deeply interwoven it is in the fabric of the Bible’s metanarrative.

    Partly this is because hospitality, though it is an act (at some levels) is actually more a stage upon which actions are taken. So much of what you see is the actions there without fully appreciating the stage. There are heroes and heroines, plots and climaxes, and so forth which tend to steal the potency of the stage itself, but then even the actions (or the overarching act of) hospitality tend to be subtle to the text of the Bible – overshadowed by such.

    I think another obstacle to our full appreciation of heaven’s hospitality is the modern world’s under-appreciation of hospitality in general and the commercial co-opting of it. Maybe you remember that Olive Garden used to have one of the all-time best commercial slogans in the industry some years ago when they said, “When you’re here, you’re family.” That slogan was great for sales, and made Olive Garden sound and seem both that much more Italian and home-like for a culture full of broken homes to consume prefabricated food prepared and served by all manner of people who were anything but Italian. And all of this as a prelude to the cash register. For if you come eat at my house, I hope you feel like family, but I am certain that if I charge you for the meal, you definitely won’t. And my point in relating all of that is, of course, the irony which is lost on all of us.

    Since the commercial industry has so hijacked hospitality unnoticed, it tells me that we modern Bible believers in this culture are underprepared to appreciate hospitality in the Bible too.

    Okay, all that said, and here I am writing about it. Amazingly, the learning has not stopped with the research. I have read enough books, enough articles, and enough Bible in 2019 to count it all as a research project. The only thing left to do is prepare a presentation of it, which I am doing in written form. However, even after all that reading, meditating, and praying, now as I begin to write it, I find myself still learning. The processing of this information just keeps illuminating the subject more and more.

    I read fantastic theological work by Joshua Jipp (my new favorite Bible scholar), and his work alone has just blown open the doors, though there are others who play a significant role in this research too. John Koenig and Christine Pohl are especially noted as helpful with this project as well. But Jipp helps me to read both Luke/Acts and John through a whole new lens. His book Saved By Faith And Hospitality takes a look at a few passages in the OT and several in the NT and uses hospitality as a lens for mapping our understanding of some of those passages. What I am describing there is not merely a study of hospitality in the Bible but a study of the Bible with richer implications when we consider it through hospitality as a lens.

    To be honest, Jipp’s theology is great stuff, and I highly recommend his book and any youtube videos you can find, because this young scholar is on fire! I think you will be excited about him too if you give him a chance. But as I stand on his shoulders and look around at the world of the Bible, I find it really somewhat short-sighted.

    All of creation is the stage upon which God’s drama plays out. So much modern, Christian theology has already jettisoned any use for creation to begin with, and has addressed Jesus as our ticket to heaven when we die. The creation is destined for the judgment fires, in this view, and there is no point in caring for it. I grew up believing a version of that myself. I think many, not all, but many rank-n-file believers are coming to terms with that bad theology in recent decades, and I certainly am one of them.

    I mention this bad theology only to demonstrate that this too is one more obstacle to our appreciation of hospitality. If we had been more theologically attuned to the creation, we might have been more appreciative of the way it plays host to us in God’s love. Creation is the stage upon which God’s drama is played out. He is the maker/carpenter/creator who makes a home for us to live in. Jesus is the carpenter’s son. He is also the host.

    The very first sin was an offense against the meal. We ate at the tree of life but chose to eat the forbidden fruit from the forbidden tree. Bread from heaven came to the children in the wilderness as a salvation and as a preview of more salvation to come. Jesus, not only the carpenter’s son, is also the bread from heaven, and the host inviting us to eat with him in the age to come. And no doubt if you are following my line of thought here, you are also thinking about Eucharist.

    A meal takes center stage in hospitality.

    Biblical hospitality is about sharing our homes with strangers. That fantastic little verse Hebrews 13:2 jams on the point! It also harkens us to Genesis 18 where God is the Stranger, and that immediately resonates with Luke 24 where the disciples are made aware who the Stranger really is. And once your nose is on that scent, you begin to find strangers, meals, revelations, and hospitality everywhere in Scripture!

    Hospitality is transformative. It is the stage where strangers become brothers. As Koenig illustrates the word most often associated with hospitality in the Greek Bible (OT and NT) is PHILOXENIA – lover of strangers, foreigners, and even enemies. (Do you see the first two greatest commands in the Bible there in the shadows of hospitaltty?) And sometimes these strangers are angels and sometimes they are God/Jesus (Matt. 25?), thus our Greek word becomes THEOXENIA. God has been estranged to us, but at the meal in the hospitality, he becomes known/revealed!

    I am starting to put together things now that Jipp did not give me. Some of Pohl’s work and Koenig’s help with this, but I am finding that the hospitality we show (or not) in our homes with strangers we meet and make ourselves vulnerable to as we humble ourselves in washing feet, feeding, waiting the table, and then sharing our roof for lodging – all at great risk – transforms the whole world! In fact, the early church did not typically meet in church buildings or cathedrals, but in homes, and the missionaries who arrived as strangers, were accepted as guests, and revealed Jesus to the world fulfilling the great commision in which, as Jesus says, “I am with you to the end of the age.”

    Thus, our hospitality is a microcosm of creation as God intended it.A meal is at the center of healing the world.

    I have so much more to say on this topic, but I have, I hope, pushed through some of the important obstacles with this email. I am calling it “heaven’s hospitality” but it seems it might also be called cosmic hospitality.

    Our task is to be faithful with it. To share it. To risk it. God is the one who shows up in the faith, enthroned on our praise. He does the work of transforming strangers and enemies into friends and brothers, the hungry into the filled, the sick into the well, and the lost into the found.

    I think (it is my thesis) that we modern Christians who have lost the better sense of hospitality and it’s richest possibilities are trying to have a very anemic faith in a very anemic church in a very sick world. There is a lot to disagree about, but so much of that can be addressed by shoving a big piece of Aunt Bea’s Peach Pie in your mouth as we sit at the table together and eat. The moment your teeth are sunk into that and you chew and swallow, the very next word that comes out of your mouth is…. drum roll please…. THANK YOU!

    For those of us more gospel focused, we will end the practice of holding the lord’s snack and calling it The Lord’s Supper, which is not too dissimilar from the tragic irony of the Olive Garden slogan. We need to get back to the house with this, where the vulnerability is, where the true sharing of our real selves (and not just our Sunday best selves) is really shared.

    Modern, western Christianity has been so reductionist for so long on many fronts. This is only one such front, really, but it is an important one.

    Hospitality. To merely talk about it, as I am doing in this email, is to make it all academic. To actually open your door to a stranger, to humble yourself and wash the stranger’s feet, to prepare a meal and SHARE it with the stranger, to listen to (and talk to) the stranger in THAT setting is to celebrate the image of God in that person that possibly even that stranger does not see. And to then take all of this to the next level and put the stranger in the bed in your guest room, offering them your bathroom, your towels, your water and soap, and then to TRUST them as you turn off the lights and go lay your head down on your own pillow, is all transformative in ways our mere talk about it can never be.

    You risk so much. And there is no guarantee you will see the results you want to see. There is a very real chance it will not go the way you want. That could be either a mixed bag or very devastating.

    But this is biblical, Christian, and heaven. You might entertain angels unaware. That happened to Abe and Sarah, so it might happen to you.

    But sometimes Jesus is revealed in the breaking of the bread. And that is worth all the risk in the world. It changes everything.

    And that is the point. Hospitality is the stage upon which everything changes. A fallen world becomes the new heavens and the new earth as the old creation strains to see the revelation of the sons of God.

    I hope you find blessing in this preview.

    Please pray for this little project of mine. My hope is that by the end of the year, I have a well written presentation.

    Please pray, and if you have any critical feedback or desire to help me with it, I would love to talk more. I am doing the heavy lifting with this project all alone just now, but some well placed support will surely be appreciated.

    Thank you, and God bless


    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a good prayer. In the past in what I thought was a difficult work environment Colossians 3:23-24 helped me to deal with it. I fall far short in applying this to all that I do. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s