Moving Outside Our Comfort Zone

How welcome do we make others feel when they visit our home? Perhaps another related and important question is how blessed they are at the end of the visit with us. Arnold H. Glasow, an American businessman, was well known for his quotes, including this one: “Some folks make you feel at home. Others make you wish you were.” Is it possible that we, as believers, have had fellow believers or unbelievers in our home for a meal, or for a night’s stay, and they have felt the same way?

Do we see hospitality as an intrusion on our time, or as an investment in the life of others? The point of this article is to consider how we can comfort and help those around us, taking us beyond what we perhaps have considered to be normal in our Christian experience in relation to hospitality. Obviously, the Bible and our own experience point to many moments of blessing for the ones showing hospitality. Abraham is one Old Testament example when he showed hospitality and received yet another promise from the Lord in Genesis 18. In the New Testament, we can think of the blessing that Lydia received when she hosted Paul and those with him in Acts 16. But what about hosting those with whom we don’t feel so comfortable?

The Expectation of the Christian

Hospitality is not really an alternative form of living the Christian life but rather what is expected of us. It is not something enjoined only on a certain group of believers, although it is a requirement for the overseers (1Ti 3:2) and also for a widow to be “taken into the number” (5:9).[1] Paul writes to the Romans that they ought to be “given to hospitality” (Rom 12:13), and Peter speaks clearly too, saying, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (1Pe 4:9). So there is really no way to avoid the exhortation, but the question is: How do we take it to the next level? How do we go beyond what we have perhaps always been comfortable with?

An Explanation About Comfort

What is your comfort zone? It describes the circumstances in which you feel relaxed, when you are able to cope well with what is happening around you. We all tend to like staying in our comfort zone, as it requires less effort and energy than when we step outside of it.

We all have (or at least should have) close friends amongst the believers with whom we regularly gather, and we thoroughly enjoy having them in our home. There are other friends who live farther away, and we are thrilled to get a text message saying they are coming to spend a weekend with us. Although there is nothing wrong – and everything right – about this kind of hospitality, it generally does not take us outside our “comfort zone.” It may mean we are busier for a few hours, but it is an enjoyable time for all involved.

What are some of the reasons we have a comfort zone? There seems to be an increasing appreciation and enjoyment of privacy in most societies. A man’s house can become his little guarded palace to which he hurries home after a busy day at work, looking for some relief from the pressures of the day. This is true to such an extent that he doesn’t even really have to interact with his neighbors, other than the occasional friendly wave as he pulls into his driveway, and then his garage door shuts and he is safe – no more pressure, no more problems.

The Expression of Care

The idea of inviting someone you don’t know into your home has become increasingly challenging for many believers. Or the thought of having someone you do actually know but who is experiencing challenges in their life and needs a listening ear, a compassionate heart, and a word of counsel is tiring, and you’re “just not up to it.”

There is perhaps a fear of inviting into our home those outside our close circle of friends because of the possibility of prying questions. Those who know us well generally understand what are the acceptable subjects that can be discussed amicably, and they won’t push the limits. What will happen if I invite that couple who just showed up to gospel meeting the last couple of Sunday nights? Am I willing to not only open my house to them but also a bit of my heart? Am I willing to pay a small price in order to possibly be a blessing to them in some measure? Can I somehow show them the heart of Christ in this way?

Perhaps there is the thought running through a reader’s mind about protecting the family. Obviously, we are not advocating putting your family in harm’s way, but at the same time we need to help our children realize that our homes are really part of the stewardship given to us by the Lord Himself, as are all the things we apparently possess. It may be relatively easy to have our best friends into the home, but our children need to see how we care for others who need that expression of interest and concern far more than those with whom we feel most comfortable.

Many of those reading this article who were brought up in a Christian home can likely look back to their own childhood and recall moments like these. Perhaps it was a single mother who needed a Christian sister to help and guide her along life’s way; perhaps it was someone who struggled with addictions that needed a word of encouragement; maybe it was a family who had never seen the love of Christ.

All new believers have been saved from a life of sin; however, some perhaps never had a proper functional family. Some never had a father figure that they could admire and emulate, and now they are trying to do what is right. What a privilege it is to be able to have them into the home and show them what a Christian family looks like, how a Christian father treats his sons, and how a Christian mother cares for her children.

Will all of this entail an effort? Yes! Will it involve some expense? Yes! Will it be worth it? Let’s be realistic – there may likely be disappointments, but there remains the joy of obeying the Lord, and He may well grant that you see other blessings as a result of stepping out of your comfort zone in order to be a comfort and help to others.

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.