It only takes 6 weeks to form a new habit. Some say it only takes 21 days.
There may not be agreement on how long it takes to form a new habit, but there is agreement that habits can be formed in a relatively short period of time. The same is true for breaking old habits.
I am being challenged.
I recently picked up a copy of The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life. I haven’t been able to put it down. Clearly from the title, the book is a call for followers of Christ to practice biblical hospitality for the sake of the gospel. The authors define biblical hospitality in this way:
“At its core, the practice of biblical hospitality is obeying the command in Romans 15:7 to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” It’s receiving others into our lives—into relationship and, yes, even into our homes. It welcomes Christians as a way to walk in the truth that we’ve been made family through the gospel, and it welcomes non-Christians in an attempt to model and extend the gracious invitation we’ve received from God in Christ.”
I have believed that the gospel is best communicated through ongoing relationships. That seems to be one of the primary means that the gospel spread so quickly in Christianity’s infancy. It is in keeping, I believe with Jesus’s teaching of the disciples in Matthew 28, “As you go, make disciples.” As you go about life, as you go to work, as you go to school, as you go to your child’s ball game, as you go about the normal rhythms of your life, make disciples. New City Church has preached this from our first days. I’ve practiced it, to some degree. But not so much at home.
Home has been my sanctuary – my place of safety and a refuge. Apparently, I am not alone in this view of home. In chapter 3 the authors list 4 “cultural currents” (trends) that describe our view of home:
isolation – our home is our private get away. It is where we go to separate from people;
relaxation – our home is a place for us to kick back, veg out, unwind and recharge;
entertainment – our home is a place to binge watch Netflix, scroll through social media and play games;
busyness – life is filled with work and play and children causing us to constantly be on the go, so much so that there is no time for home and certainly not for hospitality.
Do any (or all) of those describe you? This isn’t how it was meant to be, how it should be, and thus my being challenged.
This isn’t just a fad, “everyone’s doing hospitality now.” It isn’t just a rule, “thou shalt have people over.” It is a picture of the hospitality that God has shown to us from the garden to this day. In the garden, God not only provided a beautiful place for Adam and Eve to be and amazing food for them to eat, but He came to them in the cool of the day, spending time with them. With Israel He was with them in the cloud and fire, eventually making His home with them in the temple. Jesus is God with us! He came in the flesh to serve His people, to walk with them, care for them and provide for them – for us. Even now He provides for us in His indwelling Spirit – God is still with us! The gospel itself is God providing hospitality - all that we need to be with Him; it is Him providing, caring for and loving us. The authors wrote of this connection, “When we invite into our homes and lives those who are far from God, essentially we say to them, God loves you and He hasn’t given up on you. We present that message with our actions before we even get a chance to share the gospel with our words. If we are truly God’s ambassadors, as Paul called us in 2 Corinthians 5:20,2 then when we open our doors to a non-Christian, it is as if God Himself is opening His door. When Christians practice this simple action repeatedly, it changes the world.”
I like that – the idea that you and I can be a part of changing the world. I like the thought of my home and life at home pointing people to a God who loves them deeply and to His Son who has given so much for them. I want that.
But it is not my habit.
My habit is to see my home as a private get away from the world and people, a place for me to relax, recharge and be entertained. My habit is a busy life with little room for hospitality. I am confessing.
They say it only takes 6 weeks to form a habit.
So I will see. Maybe it will only take 21 days. I’m going to try.
“You won’t accidentally fall or stumble into changing the world through biblical hospitality… If you do nothing, you will continue to think the same way you always have and do the same things you’ve always done. Maybe a simple movement against the current becomes a way of life that leads to seeing lives and neighborhoods transformed.”
First I’m going to finish this amazing book! You can pick up a copy and join me. It is a great read and incredibly practical.
I’m going to get a copy for Amy and get her reading.
I’m going to schedule with her a night – maybe just twice a month for now (it’s a start!) to open our home for hospitality.
I’m going to invite people around me to dinner. I’m going to be a friend. I’m going to listen. And when I am able I will share with them how good Jesus has been to me, how he has loved me and how he loves them.
I’m praying now for those who might come. I’m praying that this will become a beautiful habit for me. And I praying that maybe it would become a habit for you as well.