Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Peter 4:8-9
Last summer, our church read a book on hospitality called The Gospel Comes with a House Key. It was a helpful reminder and explanation of what hospitality might look like. It is important always to be assessing our practices including something like hospitality. All Christians are called to show it, and elders are expected to exemplify it. Hospitality is an expression of showing love to one another as a church. I wanted to share a list I found in the book I mentioned last week (Life in Community) describing hospitality that will hopefully challenge and encourage you as you make the effort to show hospitality.
1. Hospitality is not about entertaining
This means that we aren’t focused simply on making an Instagram worthy setting to show off to the world. Instead we are opening our home (and life) to invest in people. The motivation is love not selfishness.
2. Hospitality is about an open life
Hospitality is more about how you live your life than whether you have people over to your home. Do you communicate with your life, ‘Yes, there is room in my life for you,’ or do you communicate, ‘I’m too busy to actually let you into my life.’ There is a subtle difference. If you don’t know which message you give, ask your friends and other church members, and ask them to be honest.
3. Hospitality is a community project
Our gathering as a church should only be the beginning of our involvement in each other’s lives. Does our corporate gathering and unspoken culture say, ‘We’re not sure you will fit in here,’ or does it signal a willingness to new relationships? By nature Minnesotan culture is closed to outsiders. We must work against the flow. We also must be willing to be creative and open to helping each other out in our endeavors to show hospitality. It is not simply a thing we do for the church; instead it is something we do as a church. It is also an aspect of our witness to the world about the gospel of Jesus.
4. Hospitality can be planned or spontaneous
There is no script for how we show hospitality. Instead, we are free to pursue hospitality in many ways. However, we must be willing to change if the connection is lacking. We must take initiative to reach out to others on their own turf sometimes.
5. Hospitality is powerful
Both the Hebrews passage and the 1 Peter passage relate hospitality with showing love to one another. They are interrelated. Historically speaking, hospitality is one of the primary means of the spread of the gospel. Through showing and receiving hospitality, Christians of all sorts were enabled to preach the gospel to the world. We will never know the full extent of the results of our love shown in opening ourselves and our homes.
6. Hospitality is worth the sacrifice
It takes some effort up front and some ongoing intentionality throughout the years, but hospitality is an avenue for making and developing disciples and sharing the gospel. The initial investment provides a huge return long term of people who have been saved and developed into maturity. I know that I have experienced this, and I pray that this is also the experience of every other Christian and their neighbors as well.