From Pastor Tim– One of the foundational “good works” that we were created to do in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10) is the Work of Mercy of Opening Your Home, better known as hospitality. Not only is it a “good work”, but it’s the good work that God has been doing towards us since the creation of the world!
The Old Testament begins with God hosting Adam and Eve. Later we see God rescuing the Hebrew people from slavery and hosting them in the desert and the promised land. God then extends this hospitality to the whole human race through the Israelites. God also gives human beings an awareness of him and the ability to recognize and turn from their sinfulness. This is an example of his hospitality that we call prevenient grace.
But hospitality often gets viewed as an “add-on” to the Christian faith, something that’s praiseworthy but not really necessary. It’s often reserved for a select few who have the “spiritual gift” of hospitality. Such spiritually gifted people seem to always be great cooks, love people and have big homes. The problem that arises is that the hosting is left to those spiritually gifted folks and the rest of us are then “off the hook” when it comes to hospitality.
Modern-day believers are really the only ones who feel this way though, because for believers in the Old and New Testament, hospitality was essential to their walk with the Lord. In her article, Building a Place for Hospitality, Christine Pohl writes, “Hospitality was viewed as a central virtue and practice in most cultures and, at times, even as one of the pillars of morality on which society was built.”
A few years ago, one family in our church had a beautiful home that they were always opening up to friends, church members and even strangers. They always had something going on in their home, and it seemed like they had a great attitude about it. This family should have been a good model for the rest of the church members to learn from, but instead, the hosting was always left up to this family to do.
Not only did I notice that other people had a problem with hospitality, but my wife and I struggled with hospitality for a long-time, albeit for a slightly different reason. It wasn’t so much that we didn’t want to host, but we felt like our home wasn’t suitable to host. We lived in an older, smaller house that could barely contain our growing family. We felt like the house was too crowded with our own family, let alone anyone else who came over to visit. Consequently, we didn’t have many guests over to our house.
It’s interesting that Paul never said to being hospitable was only possible if you had enough space. He didn’t even say that you had to be a good cook. In fact, Paul offers no caveats at all when he said, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” or when he said “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcome you, for the glory of God.”
We began this month by hosting five people at our home this past Saturday night. We began with a meal and fellowship and ended the evening with everyone participating in family worship. Although we felt a little cramped, my wife and I have decided not to let our outward circumstances determine if and when we are hospitable to others.
I would also challenge you to look to Christ and how He hosted you, rather than looking at the size of your home, the quality of your cooking or whether you can entertain like Martha Stewart.