I had the privilege to spend last week in Kauai. I became aware of something while I was there. Are you ready for this groundbreaking statement?
People go to Hawaii because the island is beautiful.
Shocking, I know.
Everyone I have spoken with who has been to Hawaii says says the same thing but phrases it as a question, "isn't is beautiful?" It as though everyone is overwhelmed by the beauty of the island that you almost have to say that in the form of a question just to make sure that what you saw was real.
What strikes me about this is not that Hawaii is beautiful, but that the Hawaiian natives are nice! In fact they are more than nice, they all seem to embody a spirit that is engraved in their DNA or their souls. They are crazy nice to everyone almost all the time. And you know, they do not have to be.
In fact I would be willing to bet that Hawaiians can be total jerks and people would still visit Hawaii in mass numbers because people visit Hawaii for the beauty of the island not for the people. And yet, the people are insanely nice and hospitable.
I asked several native Hawaiians why they are so nice to tourists. I expected to hear some statement about how natives don't really like tourists but are nice to them because they supply money to the economy. But I did not hear that. Not even from people who were in the hotel or restaurant business or even the locals I met on the peer. Rather they all said basically the same thing.
"Well, I guess we are nice because we understand it is a real gift to live in such beauty."
They live in a place of such beauty. They identify they are not entitled to the grace and beauty around them. There is a humility that seems rooted in their voice as they talk as though they take such pride in the island that they cannot help but share it.
I think there is a message here for the Church. What would our lives looked like if we stopped treating hospitality as something we do but as something we are because we too identify that we are not entitled to the grace and beauty around us? What if we took so much pride in the beautiful message we call "Good News" that we could not help but share it.
The Hawaiians I encountered were hospitable as though they needed to be in order to survive. The church speaks of hospitality as though it is something we do in order to get members.
I desire a faith that I cannot help but be hospitable because I identify the beauty around me and know that grace that is in my life is not earned. I want a faith that is hospitable because it engraved in my DNA or my soul.