By: Matt Steltenpohl, Resonate Pocatello
Be hospitable. Love your neighbor. Be generous. No Christian would argue that these commands from Jesus aren’t important. I have never struggled to believe in these ideas, but have always struggled to really live these out. There are thousands of references to these texts in Christendom, and application usually feels compelling and immediate. Yet there seems to be a huge factor that we don’t think through: How does my housing situation impact my mission?
To help answer this question, let's look at three short stories and takeaways from each.
Bill just finished his freshman year at Montana State University and is hyped on sharing his love for Jesus with others. He finds the coolest house a block away from the university with two buddies from his dorm floor that are Christian but don’t follow Jesus like he does. He’s stoked to have guys over to read the Bible in the morning and even told his Village leader that his house would be perfect to host every week. He’s so excited he drops the news on Kevin and Jack (his roomies). Kevin is fine with it, as long as it doesn’t disrupt his 18 hour/day study sessions that include complete quiet. Jack, on the other hand, is super down to have people over! They just have to avoid his dog’s “land mines” and be ok with his hookah lounge in the main bathroom. Needless to say, Bill had a long year of doing mission elsewhere.
Takeaway #1: You can have the best location and the biggest heart for those who don’t know Jesus, but if you’re not united on mission with your roommates, your house won’t be a place of mission.
Gary and Maddie are finally married! No more dealing with roommates that use their stuff! They have all their fancy wedding gifts and can’t wait to decorate more than just their room. They find a beautiful house in Missoula near some of their closest friends. It’s a little spendy but it’s just so nice they can’t resist! They can’t wait to lead Village but are reluctant to host. What if people misuse their things? However, after listening to Preston Rhodes preach on hospitality, they decide it would be good to have people over even if it’s inconvenient. After 2 months of making people sit on the floor instead of their new leather couch, passive aggressive comments about using any of their stuff, and awkward marital tension on finances in front of guests, they decide they don’t want people over anymore!
Takeaway #2: God provided your stuff to be enjoyed by you and leveraged for people. But when it becomes your ultimate treasure, your stuff becomes enjoyed by you and protected from people. (Matthew 6:19-21).
Tyler just graduated from Western Washington University and has decided that mission in Bellingham is more pressing than moving back home. He finds a job in his field and starts looking for a house to purchase by the next school year. He finds one within his budget and loves it! It has everything he wanted! It’s close to his job, has a great yard where he hopes to have BBQs, and has a big living space where he can invite new friends over. The only issue is that it’s a 20 minute commute from the people he wants to pursue (Sophomores and older) and the community he so loves. Despite his beautiful home, it’s so hard to have people over let alone get the motivation to spend time with his friends and new friends.
Takeaway #3: Just like real estate investing, the three most important factors for houses are: Location, Location, Location.
You may relate to these three stories to some degree. Yes, they’re a little silly, but the takeaways are so important. Who you live with, how you protect or leverage your things, and where you live is the difference between using your home for mission and using your home for habitation. I know countless people (and have been that person) that has desired to use my house for God and yet didn’t take in these practicals.If you live with the purpose of loving like Jesus loved, then you must choose a home situation where that can flourish. All homes have walls and roofs, but not every home is equal.