Making Room: A Study of Biblical Hospitality

Day 5: Making Room for Your Betrayers

Exodus 23:4-5, Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 6:27-36, John 18:15-18, John 21:15-19, Colossians 3:12-13

About 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, right after the Presidential election, I saw someone send out a tweet or Facebook post about the new video for The Avett Brothers’ “No Hard Feelings.” They said it may be the message we need right now. I rolled my eyes. But then a week later, enough people convinced me, so I watched the video.

When the jealousy fades away
And it’s ash and dust for cash and lust
And it’s just hallelujah
And love in thoughts and love in the words
Love in the songs they sing in the church
And no hard feelings

And then I watched again.

I have no enemies
I have no enemies
I have no enemies
I have no enemies

And again.

And then I listened to the whole album. Then I bought the vinyl and I’ve listened to this album every morning since Thanksgiving.

Why? Because “hard feelings” are easy for me. I cast others into the role of an enemy without much effort. I am bent that way more than I’d like to admit. Decisions, actions, and opinions stand as tall impediments to having a hospitable heart towards those who have betrayed what I see as good and right. I do not forgive with the same ease with which I exile my affection for others.

So every morning, I’ve listened to this album on the way to work where I need to hear these words from the first track so much:

There ain’t nobody here
Who can cause me pain or raise my fear
’cause I got only love to share

The Scriptures are clear. There is nothing clever to be added. Though we were once enemies, God has welcomed us and loves us because of what Christ has done. Our sins are forgiven, therefore we should forgive. Our greatest problem has been solved.

We, who were cosmic betrayers, are loved and therefore should be prodigious in the love that we share with others. We should share our love with the unlovable, the betrayers, those we are tempted to make into enemies. As Paul wrote, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13).

So I get up every morning, read the Scriptures and then listen to that album on the way to work so that I can remember…

There ain’t no man that can save me
There ain’t no man that can enslave me
Ain’t no man or men that can change the shape my soul is in

Whoever it was that said we needed that song most likely meant that they thought it could be helpful in the wake of a divisive election cycle. That is true. But for me, I need these scriptures and that song to remind me that I am now free, because of the gospel, to say “no hard feelings” towards those who would be my enemies, my betrayers. Without such grace, I know I would be lost.

Written By Matthew B. Redmond