Friday, May 4, 2012

Hospitality: The Who - Pt. 2

With whom should I share the love of Christ, as well as my personal blessings?

It is pretty common these days to want to shield ourselves from other people, especially outsiders and strangers.  We may feel comfortable with family coming into our homes, but after that, we begin to draw lines.  With limited time, and sometimes limited resources, how do we determine who to bless?

In the many passages of Scripture that speak to hospitality, the authors take most of the guesswork from our giving.  Certainly times have changed, and cultures are varied, but basic human needs have not changed.  People still need God, people still need comfort, and people still need people.
  • Fellow Believers - Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  (I Peter 4:9)
One of the benefits of progress has been that many churches are able to have their own building/area for group fellowship. Although the the convenience is a huge blessing (I'll never want to go back to the days of renting buildings, hauling equipment, food, etc.), I think we have allowed the times of church fellowship to substitute for hospitality in the home.  I know I have.  Church fellowship is Biblical and profitable, but shouldn't substitute for personal and family hospitality.

When I was young, our family was on somewhat of an island of seclusion out here in northwest Ohio.  None of our extended family lived within 125 miles, and there were many smaller holidays (Labor Day, Memorial Day, July 4th)  that were not celebrated with other people.  Sometimes we would have a church picnic on one of those days (our family always enjoyed those so much), but for the most part people wanted to be with their families.  That's natural.  But now that I have family of my own in town, I don't want to forget what it was like to be here without any.  I want to make my home a place where people feel like family, and feel at home.

Thinking back on my childhood, some of my favorite memories are when people would invite us into their homes for fellowship.  Being a parsonage, our home was "hospitality on speed," so it was a special treat to be invited into someone else's home.  It would give us nourishment, encouragement, laughter, and promote bonding in Christian faith.  It's no wonder we are admonished to "show hospitality to one another."
  •  Strangers -  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)
There are many Scriptures that reference showing hospitality to strangers.  This is an area where most of us are tempted to firmly draw the line.  We are living in a culture that is not "stranger-friendly."  We don't pick up hitch hikers, we are skeptical when someone gives us a story of need, and we most definitely wouldn't take someone we don't know into our home and jeopardize the safety of our family.  I have been in every single situation, and I'm often confused because I don't want to be ignorant and don't want to be taken advantage of.  But how do we get around the Scriptural implications of strangers and our responsibility? 

We have a couple in our church who, as a teenager, impressed my by their hospitality for people who would come to our church for the first or second time.  We would see a new face, or a family of faces, and pretty soon we would hear that they had Sunday dinner at the home of this couple.  I always wondered if it was awkward for them to bring strangers into their home.  This sort of hospitality isn't exactly typical or popular, but they were extending the love of Christ...just as Christ asked many times throughout Scripture.  And this couple immediately had an inroad for personal witnessing.  When people experience our kindness, they can't help but want to know more about our Saviour.
  •  Those who cannot repay. -  He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  (Luke 14:12-14)  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:7)
How often do we open our hands, our homes, our hearts to people who have nothing to give us in return?  This is where our faith meets our works.
  •  God's servants, ministers - While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table.   (Luke 11:37)   Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. (Luke 10:38) He said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” (Genesis 24:31)
In New Testament days, hospitality was important to the disciples who were traveling through the countrysides to the towns and villages.  In much the same way, hospitality is an important way of taking care of God's messengers today.  Traveling evangelists, missionaries, Bible college students and personnel are just a few of the people who benefit from believers who will choose to share what they have. 

If we ask God to open our eyes to the needs of people around us,
He will certainly give us opportunities to be His hands, His heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for joining the conversation!