Relationships are the building blocks of community, and according to Regent University School of Divinity alumna Rev. Lekesha Barnett ’01, healthy relationships modeled after Christ are grounded in honor and hospitality.
Barnett, the young adults and singles staff pastor at Wheeler Baptist Avenue Church in Houston, Texas, expounded further in her sermon at University Chapel on Wednesday, February 28.
Showing someone honor, she said, is to “acknowledge that they are worthy of the dignity of respect.”
“Just because you are alive, just because you bear the image of God, that means you’re worth my attention and my time,” Barnett added. “You are to be honored because the signage and the stamp of God is on you; you are created in His image and after His likeness.”
Being hospitable, she continued, is “making sure every person that encounters you, every person that crosses paths with you, is a person that feels like they’re in a safe space … to be embraced.”
But what does a community that holds to these virtues look like, especially when it simultaneously manifests both honor and hospitality?
Barnett pointed the audience to a well-known parable of Christ, nestled in Luke 10 — the Good Samaritan.
The central figure of Christ’s story — the battered and robbed Samaritan lying on the roadside — had been literally and figuratively stripped of dignity and passed over by people who were religious leaders in their own community.
The Christian’s role, said Barnett, is that of the man who stopped and cared for the Samaritan in not only a hospitable, but dignifying fashion — one that honored him.
“I wonder if we are in a hurry, so much consumed with our life and high calling, that we forget that part of being the people of God that represent Him in the world is to honor those who need it the most?” Barnett asked. “As Christians … we don’t see them as ‘other’ and then pass to the other side; we see them as part of our own humanity.”
If we love God, Barnett said, we must love people as well. The two are connected, and one cannot simply love one and not the other.
“Jesus sends you,” she said. “You are his hands and feet, you are the one to … put the salve on the wounds, you are the one who comes into this place to get filled up so that the anointing on you can be poured out and help somebody else heal and know that Jesus is still alive.”