February 10, 2023 - Hospitality


Good morning. Let’s pause for a moment and settle into this moment, asking the Lord to challenge and change us through His Word and by His Spirit right now. Minimize any distractions, be still, and close your eyes. Surrender completely to the Lord and to walking in His way. Pray with me: Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit: would you come and meet with us today. Lead us to greater dependence on you as you challenge us to love others well.

What comes to mind when you hear the word hospitality? Do you automatically think of fancy dinner parties or all of the work that has to be done before you can have people over to your home? We tend to overthink the concept of hospitality and reduce it to entertaining–something that is about us–instead of understanding it to be an invitation to put the heart and glory of God on display to others. Matthew 25:36-40 gives us a picture of what biblical hospitality looks like:

36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ (Matthew 25:36-40, NLT)
This passage is part of a larger conversation that Jesus is having with his disciples about separating the righteous from the unrighteous at the end of the age. And, this is what he says is the demonstration of those who are righteous: that they served Him by meeting the needs of others when they were naked, sick and in prison.

From the very beginning of the story of Scripture, we see God exhibiting hospitality: he welcomed Adam and Eve home to live in the Garden with Him and provided all that they needed. Jesus, when he walked on earth, lived a life of welcome: inviting others in, always being willing to be interrupted by the needs of those around him, and addressing their physical needs in order to be able to address their much deeper spiritual need. His hospitality was dynamic and active! There was no length too great for Jesus to go to in order to care for those around Him; he touched lepers, ate at the homes of tax collectors and sinners, mixed dirt with his hands to heal the eyes of the blind. His radical hospitality paved the way for transformation to occur: it turned the stranger into a neighbor, the outcast into a part of the family.

Everyone of us, as followers of Jesus, are meant to exhibit the heart of our God to the world through the pursuit of hospitality, by welcoming others in and providing for their needs, just as he did. Jen Schmidt, in her book Just Open the Door, reminds us that “the posture we assume in hospitality is one that bends low, generously offering our hearts to another despite whatever interruption to our own plans or comfort;” it is about “freely giving of ourselves while granting others the freedom to be themselves.” Instead of being concerned with what hospitality costs us, we can shift our perspective to the privilege of putting the love and the glory of God on display, so that others can come to Him.

Romans 12:13 reminds us to always be ready to meet people’s needs and to always be eager to practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13) Are you eager to practice hospitality? Are you regularly in the practice of actively welcoming others in and providing for their needs? What is the Lord calling you to do today to extend hospitality to others? Are there neighbors around you that you haven’t met? Consider baking some goodies to take to them and introducing yourself to establish a relationship with them. Maybe the Lord is calling you to open your home to welcome students during our United Weekend coming up in March. Maybe you need to send a text to invite someone you know is struggling over for coffee or dinner. Ask the Lord to show you how you can serve him by meeting the needs of those around you.

Once you have asked the Lord what he wants you to do in light of his invitation to live a life of welcome, spend time sitting quietly, surrendering to Him. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Surrender to the Lord any fears or resistance you may have to accepting his invitation and the challenges that come along with it. Ask him to help you trust him and walk in bold courage and obedience.

Pray: Jesus, thank you for leading the way by living a life of hospitality. Thank you for welcoming me in when I was a stranger and a rebel and for providing for my deep spiritual need by giving all of yourself on the cross for me. Would you empty me of pride and excuses and give me a willingness to actively extend hospitality to those around me today, so they can see your heart. I surrender to you; do what you will in and through me, for your glory. Amen.