British pastor Sam Allberry tweeted something this week that reminded me of how most of us (me included) are not taking full advantage of what is perhaps our greatest opportunity to engage people who are far from God with the gospel.
The mostly ignored secret weapon when it comes to being on mission with Jesus is the weapon of hospitality.
A few years ago, when I read Rosaria Butterfield’s memoir The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, where she details her journey from a lesbian professor of Queer Studies at Syracuse University who was far from God to believing the gospel message and surrendering to Jesus, I was struck by what was the instrumental means of her conversion. It was the gracious hospitality shown her by a Presbyterian pastor and his wife who invited someone they had never me to be a guest in their home for dinner.
As she describes the experience, Rosaria confesses that she arrived as an adversary, and after several subsequent dinners, she found herself drawn to Jesus.
Alexander Strauch says “hospitality is love in action. Hospitality is the flesh and muscle and bones of love.”
And Tim Chester reminds us how much of Jesus ministry took place around a dinner table. “Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries or put on events,” Chester says. “He ate meals.” The Son of Man may have had no home of His own and no place to lay His head, but he knew the power that comes from a welcoming heart.
And in the end, that’s where the root of hospitality is found. It’s not in our homes. It’s in our hearts.
In our day, we talk about restaurants and hotels being part of the “hospitality industry,” which my daughter Amy has observed is, if we are thinking biblically, a contradiction in terms. Biblically, Amy writes, “hospitality is not about throwing parties for your friends or making money off of strangers. Instead, hospitality is a posture of the heart. Hospitality means being emotionally, physically, spiritually open to strangers – and being open for unexpected blessings in return.”
Which brings me back to the tweet from Sam Allberry.
There are two corrections we need to make in how we think if we’re going to embrace a biblical understanding of hospitality. The first correction is this. We have to quit thinking that our homes are about our privacy. As long as that’s our primary thought about where we live, we will never embrace hospitality as we ought.
And second, we must recognize that real hospitality is not about performance. It’s about caring. About loving others.
The writer of Hebrews has famously encouraged us to “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:1-2
In the midst of the busyness of daily life, is there a way you extend hospitality this week? Is there someone who is far from God and far from church that you can invite into your home for a meal?
It is not a coincidence that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin root word. Opening your home may be the greatest act of spiritual care you can offer someone.
It’s time for Redeemer Small Groups to reform and reconnect! Here’s the info about this fall: