What would you do if Christ showed up at your front door?
If you’re anything like me you’d say “I knew that I should have gotten up an hour early so that I could vacuum.” I might even be tempted to say “could you hold on for just a minute?” while I scurry around the house to see how much I could get cleaned in three minutes. (As if my Lord and Savior, who knows my every thought, my every move, had no idea that I was frantically cleaning while he stood outside on the step)
Some of my friends would hold the door open and say “I’ve been expecting you” and pleasantly invite him in to their living room. Their houses look darn near perfect. I don’t know how they do it but I pretty much hate them.
No, I don’t hate them. Not REALLY. (They know who they are and some day I’m going to catch them with a coffee cup in their sink – someday)
What about if Jesus pushed a shopping cart in front of you at the checkout line. You know the one – 10 items or less and you just know that there are way more than 10 items in his cart? (Is it possible that Jesus would not follow the checkout rules? Imagine with me for just a moment…)
Or what about if you were to see the face of God in the homeless person on the street corner?
Or the person from the office next door who absolutely lacks social skills and doesn’t realize that you’ve been trying to end the pointless conversation about her aunt’s cat for 10 minutes? (Although I’d like to think if Christ walked in to my office my response wouldn’t be “do you mind? Today’s not a good day. I’ve got deadlines.”)
Or the auditor who spends twenty minutes asking you why the bill says $20.52 and the check was written out for $20.25?
Hold those thoughts while I take a bit of a detour – I’ll get back to it.
I’ve been reading two books on the Rule of St. Benedict that have me really and truly thinking about these questions lately.
St. Benedict was the founder of holy monasteries throughout including one at Monte Cassino in Italy that is still in operation today. He’s considered to be the founder of Western monasticism, and he wrote a Rule by which the monastery was to be governed. The Rule of Benedict emphasizes balance and moderation. After I get more reading done I’ll devote an entire post to the Rule of Benedict and my impression of its uses for modern life, but I’ve been contemplating on one strong belief that Benedict held – and that you can experience if you ever go to a Benedictine monetary yourself – greet the guest as Christ.
I attended an excellent seminar many years ago that must have used the Benedictine philosophy as the basis for the teaching, but I don’t remember if I asked. The instructor said that the true definition of Hospitality from the Christian perspective is “The Christ in me meets the Christ in you.”
I don’t know about you, but to truly live by one of these mottos “greet the guest as Christ” or “the Christ in me meets the Christ in you” is extremely difficult – and a little uncomfortable.
As I move through my day with all of the stress and pressures – and all of the people that can just send me over the edge just because they chose the wrong sweater in their closet today…. Well, let’s just say that if Christ were to show up to my front door it would probably be to say “let’s talk a bit about how you’ve been acting. How does that sound?”
As I move through my day do I view the people I interact with as Christ?
Sure I do – the easy ones. The ones that I like.
The ones that I find irritating? Not so much. I see them more like the Devil on earth.
It’s too easy to label them as mean or annoying or stupid or from the (gasp!) other political affiliation! And then after you label them say to yourself “I just don’t have anything good to say about her” and you justify it as being “okay” because “they just don’t understand.”
The minute that thought comes in to my consciousness is when I need to stop and whisper up a prayer, “Father, forgive me,” and then attempt to see the other person’s Christ. Their Christ is there – even if they haven’t seen him for a while.
Like I said, I’m not saying that this is easy. I’m admitting to you, our dear readers, that I have to constantly remind myself about greeting the guest as Christ, that I constantly have to find the Christ in people that I meet. There are many days that I have an easier time doing this than others, but the point is that in our ugly world I need to do everything in my power to see the Christ in others.
Now, if you’ll excuse me… I should go tidy up my living room. You just never know when Jesus is going to stop by. I want to give a good impression.
God bless you my friends.