From Pastor Tim — Hospitality is a lot more foundational to the Bible than you might be aware. So foundational in fact, that in the Old Testament, hospitality was seen as something very practical, but with divine implications.
In Genesis 18, Abraham bent over backwards to host three heavenly strangers. And then a few chapters later in Genesis 24:31, Laban invites Abraham’s servant into his home by saying, “Come in, O blessed of the LORD. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” And this chance meeting had actually been orchestrated by God.
The Old Testament even portrays the interaction between God and the Israelites as sort of a divine hospitality. Remember that the Hebrew people didn’t have a home, and in their journey to find one God hosted them by provided manna (Exodus 16-17). And when they did find a home, it was one that was provided by God. Even King David recognized this when he said in Psalm 39:12, “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.”
As Pastor Foley noted in Friday’s video, the New Testament model of hospitality closely mirrors the Old Testament one. It was both a practical and a spiritual exercise, and hosting was most often directed towards strangers and people who did not share the same values as the host. These ancient Christians were acutely aware of the fact that their hosting had eternal implications (Matthew 25:31-46). Hebrews 13:2 drives home this point when it says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
When my wife and I have hosted people in our home, it consisted of having friends and family over for dinner and occasionally an overnight stay. We opened our home to people that we knew or at least that we knew would reciprocate our invitation. There is nothing wrong with this type of hospitality, although it minimizes the divine encounter that is often seen in the Bible.
Last month, I wrote that our family had a goal of hosting someone in our home at least once a month, and we have been blessed to have been able to host people about once a week during the months of March and April. It’s not something that we’re naturally good at, but we are willing and thankful to be used by God in this capacity. Now, God has been challenging us to continue to host, but to do it with people that we are not as comfortable with.
We took that first step two weekends ago, by hosting a couple that we had only met about a week earlier. Then last weekend, we hosted a lady that we had never met before. We shared our home, our food and our family worship time together with these people. Admittedly, all of these “strangers” were also believers, so we still haven’t opened our home on a regular basis to people with values different from our own.
My wife and I recently met a lady who moved into a townhouse down the street. We don’t know much about her, except that she is all alone with no family in the area. She seems nice enough, but we really have no idea of her background or her spiritual beliefs. We will be opening our home to this woman in the coming weeks and in so doing we hope to share in the divine encounter that was so common in the scriptures.
And we won’t stop hosting family and friends, but we will include more people (like this woman) in our already established goal of hosting someone at least once a month.