Our Miserably Tarnished Version of Hospitality

The church’s focus on bringing the world into the pulpit and pew has had its effect on the home and how we view hospitality. We have set our gaze to the world for our cue to exhibit a miserably tarnished version of hospitality. Like the church, we have become entertainers in our homes. I know of church home groups that are more like nightclub bars than koinonia fellowship.

While I am blessed to have been taught and am continually encouraged to grow in the grace of Biblical hospitality, I see many challenges that have arisen from the culture obsessed, program and entertainment driven church that began oozing into the walls of churches and the hearts of believers in the mid nineties thanks to books like Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Church

It was almost surreal as I watched the phenomenon take place in the church we attended and loved when Warren’s book was hot off the presses. Tragically, our flourishing church went from deep expository preaching to dimmed lights and drama virtually overnight. What we are seeing 22 years later is heart-wrenching. 

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
— 2 Timothy 4:3

We MUST get back to the Bible for a sound-minded theology of hospitality.

God Commands Hospitality

Hospitality is revealed to us throughout the entire Bible, not as something we do when the mood strikes, when my home is clean enough, or I have enough money in the grocery budget for a lavish meal. Rather, it is to reside within the very core of our lives.

Israel was forewarned as well as commanded more than once to remember what it was like to be aliens and strangers in Egypt. 

God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. Genesis 15:3

for Moses said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” Exodus 18:3

The Israelites knew very well the feelings and sufferings that came from being enslaved in a place that was not theirs, so God used those hard times as a reminder to not treat others the way they had been treated. They were to be very different as they lived out the amazing deliverance by God:

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33-34

God Exemplifies Hospitality

God rescued Israel and showed them such hospitality by bringing them from Egypt to a home that was flowing with milk and honey. Israel did not deserve this gracious hospitality in any respect, but God, being concerned for His glory, condescended in this heroic homecoming in keeping with His covenant. 

Ladies, we too, have been rescued by God through the most heroic act in all of world history through Jesus Christ. We were helpless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies, yet Christ intervened (Romans 5:6-11). God gave us His Son generously (John 3:16).

Jesus sought me when a stranger…
— Robert Robinson {Come Thou Fount}

Is Our Attitude Towards Hospitality Christ-Centered or Pharisaical?

Do you consider it a privilege to be involved in the reconciling activity toward the world, or have you been deceived by the world’s thinking when it comes to the command of hospitality?

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

May I inch my way into your heart by asking you this hard question: Are you displaying a hypocritical love to the world and one another by not practicing Biblical hospitality? 

Are we like Abraham in Genesis 18:1-8 who gave the very best he had in a most generous way, or are we like the Pharisees who put on a good show to the world, but their hearts and pockets were evidenced by greed when it came down to brass tacks in meeting the needs of their own family (Mark 7:11)? The Pharisees were hiding behind their traditions custom fit toward their desires to keep them from true obedience. While the context of this particular passage was honoring one’s parent, Jesus continued in verse 13 by saying and you do many things such as that. 

Greed was their heart’s attitude when it came to how they treated others. A greedy heart will most likely be evidenced through complaining: Be hospitable to one another without complaint (1 Peter 4:9).

In order to nip a complaining spirit before it begins, I must purpose myself to reflect upon the hospitality I have received through salvation. This hope will give me excited anticipation as I prepare to show hospitality to others. Otherwise, I will turn my focus from Christ and others to myself as I am painfully reminded of in Luke 10:38-42.

Giving of oneself to care for God’s people means sharing one’s life and home with others. An open home is a sign of a loving, sacrificial, serving spirit. A lack of hospitality is a sure sign of selfish, lifeless, loveless Christianity.
— Alexander Strauch

Am I Reflecting my Love for God in my Service to Others?

God graciously gives us so many shared attributes and abilities as well as spiritual gifts to reflect Him as our Loving Father, Savior, and Worthy One. Hospitality is wrapped up in Whose we are. The very act of showing hospitality is a part of our identity in Christ. When we are hospitable to the outcast, the stranger, or the least of these, we are shouting out to the world Look at MY God!  Ultimately, it is Christ to Whom we are showing hospitality.

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:35-40

The Ultimate Goal of Hospitality

I have always been told good hospitality is making sure the person you are ministering to has improved in some way since they arrived. That is the goal of a hospital, is it not? My husband and I have both been recipients of hospital stays during the last six months. I am grateful the care we received left us physically improved over when we arrived.

Good hospitality is making your home a hospital. The idea is that friends and family and the wounded and weary people come to you home and leave helped and refreshed.
— Kevin DeYoung

That is how we should consider our ministry in our “home hospitals.” But that result cannot come through mere entertainment. Just like many churches today that have given in to man-centered entertainment, grabbing the spotlight from God, the spotlight will be fixed upon you if you have set out to entertain and amuse your guests. However, if the spotlight has been fixed on the One who rescued us from our despair and discouragement, and oh yes, our depravity, then God’s glory will be what was displayed in our homes.

Other Great Reads on Hospitality

Hospitality is Not Just for Home by Bethany Jenkins

Intentional Christian Hospitality by A Narrow Minded Woman (Kristy Kapp)

Why Hospitality Beats Entertaining by Jen Wilkin