There's something special that happens when God's people gather around the table. Fellowship, laughter, community—His presence is made known. We get to witness the fullness of God and His personhood when we spend time with those who warm our hearts.
Isn't it amazing to think how God has intentionally placed our neighbors in our lives for a specific reason? He knew just how much we needed them. Time well spent with these loved ones is like chicken noodle soup for the soul or the feeling of the warm sun on an early summer day. It's the comfort we need in a very unpredictable, chaotic world. In short, it is a gift.
The greatest commandment we're given in the Bible is to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:36-39), so it comes as no surprise to us that the power of hospitality is not to be underestimated in the Kingdom of God. This God-given mandate is not only for our benefit, but it furthers His work in our world.
Let's make the most of our call to love others and showcase God's hospitality in an entirely new way with our step-by-step guide.
Hostess With the Mostess—Humility!
“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” ~ Luke 14:7-11
The first step to demonstrating Godly hospitality? Humility.
Things operate a little differently in God's kingdom. Consider this verse from Matthew 20:16, "So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen." Jesus' way of living is so dramatically different than the way our world is conducted. In His kingdom, the lowly are brought forth to positions of power and honor, and vice versa.
This all goes back to Jesus' personhood and the humility He demonstrated while He walked the earth. Consider His ministry and how He lived His life—consistently elevating those experiencing poverty, illness, or shame. While He is our rightful king, He humbled Himself by washing the feet of His disciples (John 13:1-17).
Going back to the passage mentioned above, Luke 14, we see God is inviting us to see the world through His lens—a world where everyone has a seat at the table, where the host or hostess extends such kindness and honor to everyone they're serving.
Reach Out to Those Who Are Different
"Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." ~ Luke 14:12-14
We often forget how radical Jesus was—in His day and age but also by today's standards, too. The call to live like He did is not an easy one, nor is it one that's expected or typical. Jesus constantly surrounded Himself with those who are different than Him, and this is something we can mimic when it comes to our own demonstrations of hospitality.
From tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers and the blind, Jesus spent a significant amount of time reaching out to the outcasts of society. Even now as we remind ourselves of this, it can be uncomfortable for us to grasp this radical display of hospitality. Too often we opt for what's comfortable. Don't get us wrong, it's wonderful to spend time with those we love and get along with—our BFF's. But there's also something to be said here for reaching out to those who lead very different lives than you.
Since the kingdom of God is available to everyone, we must extend kindness and hospitality to our neighbors, regardless of their status and lifestyle.
This excerpt from a Bridgetown Church podcast really says it all, "Jesus came eating and drinking. If he had a “method of evangelism,” that was it: eat a meal with people far from God." How true, right? Jesus took something so ordinary, like sharing a meal with someone different than Him, and He made it the foundation of His ministry. We have an opportunity to follow His lead and give our neighbors a place at our table.
Seeing (and Responding) to the Need
"Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" ~ Isaiah 58:7
Our last point to make is super simple—respond to the need in front of you. Above all the calls to pray for our neighbors (which is a very valid and important thing to do!) we have a specific call to help our community in very tangible ways.
There are all sorts of needs in our community. There are those who are hungry, need shelter, or are seeking asylum or freedom from addiction. Aside from prayers, how do we as Christians respond to this very real need from very real people who live alongside us?
Consider donating or volunteering your time at a local food bank or homeless shelter. If you have a neighbor who's going through a hard time, invite them over for dinner and cook a meal for them. The sky's the limit, but the point is to get moving!
In Rosaria Butterfield's thought-provoking read, The Gospel Comes With a House Key, she defines "radically ordinary hospitality" as a unique call to open up our homes to further God's ministry:
"Radically ordinary hospitality—those who live it see strangers as neighbors and neighbors as family of God. They recoil at reducing a person to a category or a label. They see God’s image reflected in the eyes of every human being on earth. They take their own sin seriously—including the sin of selfishness and pride. They take God’s holiness and goodness seriously. They use the Bible as a lifeline, with no exceptions."
"Those who live out radically ordinary hospitality see their homes not as theirs at all but as God’s gift to use for the furtherance of his kingdom. They open doors; they seek out the underprivileged. They know that the gospel comes with a house key." ~ Rosaria Butterfield
To finish off, we'll leave you with this passage from the book of Romans, which is a lovely overview of what hospitality in God's kingdom truly looks like, and how we can take tangible steps to extend that love to our neighbors in need.
"Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." ~ Romans 12:13-20
Share God's Love
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