“Love one another...outdo one another in showing honor.. And seek to show hospitality.” (Romans 12:9-13)
Every time I travel back and forth from America to Turkey, I notice afresh the differences in each culture. There are strengths and weaknesses in both of course, but traveling between cultures brings out the contrasts! Recently I was at a party with a good 20-30 people stuffed into a medium sized room. Walking into the party my goal was to find a spot to park myself for the rest of the time. Sure, I said hi to people as I made my way across the room, but I pretty much made a beeline for the nearest chair. Part of this is just my personality of course. Introverts at a party tend to struggle… Small talk? What do I even say?! Can we just get on with the main event? It’s a challenge to say the least.
But later in the evening I observed a Turk entering the party. They made a point to go around and greet everyone in the room, whether they knew the person or not! A handshake and cheek-kisses (which is a normal greeting in Turkey) for each person in the room! Immediately this caught my attention. What a nice way to honor each person, make them feel included and special! Of course some might argue that Americans do this too—depending on the situation, where you’re from, your friend group, etc. But for me this stuck out as something particularly Turkish that I’d like to adopt!
There’s so much to learn about hospitality and greeting graciously is just a tiny part of doing it well, but it’s a place to start! And the more time I spend in Turkey, the more I see how much I can learn from my Turkish brothers and sisters about it! And the more I learn about it, the better my witness as a Christian becomes! Because how can I share the love of Jesus effectively without first showing the person hospitality? Without welcoming them and making them feel special? We are called to do just as it says, “Love one another...outdo one another in showing honor.. And seek to show hospitality.” (Romans 12:9-13)