Thursday, August 29, 2013
OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #306 A Lesson for the Body and Soul
“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
A few days ago, I reached a new running personal best. I ran for 90 minutes, which was 18 minutes longer than I had ever run before. To back up and put this in context, a year-and-a-half ago my limit was about 2 minutes. Since then I have been building up my endurance so that now I regularly run for about an hour and eight minutes, the time it takes me to finish 10km.
My run on Tuesday was about testing my limits. It felt good to arrive back home with this new personal record. And, even better, I could have continued. But my loop had brought me home, it was time for supper, and I felt satisfied with my new accomplishment.
As I ran along a particular section of road, my mind wandered to some of the times I had seen other runners at the same spot and criticized them. “Wow - does he ever look in pain.” “She’s pretty slow.” “I hope I don’t look like that when I run.” Just as these memories came back to me, I wondered if I looked any different. I was near the end of my run, tired, a little sore, slowing down, concentrating on getting home.
“But that’s not fair,” I thought. “I’m at the end of a good long run, a personal best!”
And then it occurred to me, how did I know it wasn’t that way for the others I had seen? I had no way of knowing how long those others had run, whether it was their personal best, what their history had been. It was a good, albeit humbling, lesson on being careful not to judge by appearances.
What’s the connection to Romans 12:13, sharing and practicing hospitality? The link is in the barriers we find when we think about doing these things. For some people sharing and hospitality come naturally, but I have realized this is not the case for everyone. Finding hosts for speakers and missionaries, billets for youth, or encouraging people to host a small group or take part in a program like “Guess Who’s Coming to Lunch” have taught me over the years that these things can actually be quite scary.
Sometimes we feel inadequate for the task. Sometimes we worry our place isn’t fancy enough, or clean enough, or that we won’t be good hosts. In a way, we’re prejudging how people will react to us, presuming that they will come away from our places with bad thoughts about us.
And then, sometimes, if we admit it to ourselves, don’t we just fear we won’t like the people? I hope this would not be the case, but I know from my own thoughts and attitudes - as I’ve just illustrated here - that our fallen human nature tends to go there.
This doesn’t mean we just open our wallets and our houses to whomever asks. We still need to exercise some critical thinking. But sometimes we judge things too quickly, on too little. I’m not going to pretend that sorting all of this out is easy. But at least let’s make sure that we’re not prejudging the people and situations.
I went running last Tuesday to get some exercise. I didn’t realize I would find exercise for my soul as well as my body. In any case, I hope it helps. Blessings, and be on fire.
OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Aug 29, 2013. Troy is the Pastor of Next Generations and Connections at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com, but I’m a little behind in updating things. Blog located at www.onfireletter.blogspot.com