Biblical Hospitality

What do country music, podcasts, and testimonies all have in common?  

My affection.

I love all three of the above.   Oftentimes Brian will laugh at me as he comes home to hear another birth story podcast playing or he will roll his eyes when he hears another 90’s country song playing over Pandora.

I enjoy these things because they are all about stories and I love stories.  

God has created us to love stories because he has created us to be relational beings.  Our God is a relational God. In the very essence of his triune holiness he is relational, and he has created us to be in relationship with him and with others.  

So what does that all have to do with Biblical hospitality?  Biblical hospitality is all about stories. It is all about relationship. I’m convinced that as we grow deeper and deeper into technological advances we grow further and further away from God’s intended ideal of relationships.   

Biblical hospitality is seen littered throughout the Old and New Testaments.  In Genesis, Abraham shows hospitality towards strangers (which turns out to be the Lord and 2 angels), Leviticus 19 commands us to not mistreat the alien (let that sink in as we look at our current affairs), and Proverbs has a number of passages that encourage generosity toward the poor/needy.  

The New Testament has even more examples.  In Matthew 10 we see the reliance on hospitality for Jesus and his disciples as they travel.  Titus and Timothy show the importance of hospitality by including it in a list of qualities needed by an overseer. Hebrews 13 and Luke 14 talk about hospitality towards strangers and Romans 12 and 1 Peter 4 command hospitality towards our brothers and sisters.

So as we see the Bible chalk full of commands and encouragement toward Biblical hospitality; where does that leave us in our modern world? If we could pretend our lives were the next great reality show what would we see? Maybe a few things:

  • Headphones on at the gym or on the train so no one will engage us
  • Coming home to the comfort of our homes with our families safely inside
  • Playing in our privacy-fenced backyards
  • Lurking in the shadows of our phones trying to engage socially
  • Enjoying play dates at Chick-Fil-a with our safe mom friends
  • Sitting in our cubical or behind our office door hoping no one interrupts

Honestly a lot of these things can be seen inside my heart and in my life. I want comfort. I want convenience. And I want rest.

But what if…

What if our life looked differently than the world’s life? What if our reality show showed something different:

  • Stopping to help the mom at Target with the screaming toddler
  • Inviting the annoying co-worker to sit with you at lunch and listen to his story
  • Stopping before rushing in the house to talk to your neighbor
  • Continually giving a ride to the older woman who is lonely
  • Inviting the family who you don’t know over for dinner
  • Welcoming a person from an unsafe spot into your home to engage in the safety of your family

You see I don’t think Biblical hospitality is looking for the fancy home. The flowers on the table. The delicious meal (I once served chocolate soup instead of the chocolate pie I had intended). Or the perfect family.

I also don’t think that Biblical hospitality can only happen when you have the right enneagram number. Biblical hospitality is not only for the extrovert. Biblical hospitality is a command for all of those who love Jesus.   It will look different for each of us though, as God has created us each with our unique personality, but we must still strive to be hospitable.

Biblical hospitality is first and foremost a condition of our heart. Our hearts’ aim must be to glorify God by loving his image bearers. We can show hospitality anywhere -  in our homes, at the baseball diamond, in the office, on the train, at the store, in our church. It is a heart attitude of loving people by helping them to find peace, and rest, and hope in our hope-drained world.

Biblical hospitality is about listening to stories and being in relationship. It is about providing a God-filled and loving landing spot for our family, our brothers and sister’s in Christ, the poor, the needy, the stranger, the lonely, the ones without hope. I pray that we not wall-up Christ’s love in the comfort of our castle at the expense of the hopeless.

As we head into summer we have abundant opportunity at our feet. Our new schedules are being formed and our priorities are being prioritized. Village, let us make this a summer of intentional and holy hospitality. A few ideas to get you thinking about how to weave this into your life…

  1. Find 3 open nights in your summer and invite a neighbor, a co-worker, and a Village family over for dinner on each of those nights. Do it now so your schedule doesn’t fill up.
  2. Go on a social media hiatus. You will have more time. You will not be socially exhausted through counterfeit relationships.
  3. Be a front yard family. Commit to spending 2 nights a week in your front yard. Set up a table and do a puzzle. Play a game. Eat dinner. Have a free lemonade stand. Engage your neighbors.
  4. Pray and ask God to reveal people at Village who are lonely. Commit to getting together with them weekly to share a meal, a grocery store trip, or a time of visiting.
  5. When you see a new face at Village, make them feel welcomed. Invite them out to lunch. Learn their story. Be faithful to remember their name. A name is so very important and we can’t fall back on the “I am horrible at names” excuse if we are going to show them true hospitality. Keep a small notebook with you and write down important information that you glean. People want to be remembered.

Village, I pray that we would be a people who love Jesus well and love His people well. I pray that we would be a place of refuge and hope in a world that is broken.