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Friday, June 19, 2009

Christian Hospitality

What do you think of when you hear the term “hospitality”? The dictionary defines hospitality as: cordial reception: kindness in welcoming guests or strangers.

Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

The word "hospital" is the root of this word, hospitality. A hospital is a place where sick people are welcome to stay no matter what shape they are in, how sick they are, where they have come from, or what kind of lives they have had (although insurance companies have taken some of the "hospitality" from some hospitals). While someone is in the hospital, the people who work there try their best to meet their needs. That's our job as Christians: to meet the needs of others. Hospitality is serving others.

Many times we wait for perfect times to be hospitable instead of just going ahead and doing good. We may not have others in to our homes because we feel the meal has to be something special or the house has to be spotless, or maybe we even feel like we have to redecorate before having company. I like this quote about hospitality (can't remember where it's from):

"When you entertain, you bring honor and glory to yourself. Showing hospitality brings honor and glory to God."

It kind of makes me think, does it you?

When we first married we moved to a small town in Kansas. We had a tiny little house. No stove. No oven. No dining table. Just a small table with two chairs, a microwave, crock pot, and a tiny toaster oven. The church there had a visitation program called "Guess Who's Coming to Our House?". All we knew is that we were having seven people over and what night they were coming (we picked the night). We served roast, carrots, potatoes, gravy, bread, and dessert. Everyone sat wherever they could, but it was the neatest thing! We both look back at that tiny little house and think of how many people we had in our home during that time living there. It was a great program to promote Christian hospitality!

Christian hospitality in the New Testament had to do with helping strangers and many times by giving them lodging as they travelled. With our transportation these days, that's not so much of an issue, but we can still find ways to be hospitable. Christian hospitality is more than just having people into our homes. We can reach out to others by serving them and trying to meet their needs. It's easy to have good friends over. It's easy to take a plate of cookies to someone we know. It's easy to help friends.

I challenge you - and me - to find ways to be hospitable to someone we don't know that well. Let's strive to practice true Christian hospitality!

Here are some examples:
Take food to someone you don't know.
Invite someone to our home that you don't know very well - maybe someone who just moved to town, your neighborhood, or who may be new to the church.
Visit the hospital or nursing home and talk to patients you don't know.
Pay for a stranger's meal at a restaurant.
Help provide food or clothing for the homeless.

Can you think of others ways to be hospitable?


Susan Ely said...

This is my heart, too! I am in the process of launching a blog about the Christian tradition of hospitality and the transformation that happens when we connect with others. I like the quote you used; I never heard that one before!

Lori said...

Susan - Thanks for stopping by and best wishes on your new blog. You'll have to stop by again sometime and give me your link so that I can visit yours. Lori

Calum Henderson said...

Hi Lori,

You have some great insights into Christian hospitality, I have recently started a hospitality blog with my wife called "Practising Hospitality"and have been thinking through what it means to be a hospitable Christian.

Only recently I learnt that the greek word for hospitality actually means love strangers. I thought what you said about how in the New Testament people showed hospitality by offering there homes to travellers but now we don't have that as much due to hotels etc.

Maybe another way to show hospitality in this style could be to offer your home to travellers like missionaries so that they don't have to stay in hotels. Would that be a good application?

Anyway, loved the post.


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