“Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” (Genesis 18:4-5)
And thus Abraham showed hospitality. But from then and there to here and now, something has been lost.
TV, A/C, privacy fences and patios replacing front porches have conspired to keep us inside and isolated, often strangers to those nearby while we “connect” with friends three states away.
Recently, my wife and I woke up to the reality that we can have a hundred good intentions, but if we don’t schedule hospitality, it won’t happen. So, starting last May, we began a deliberate effort to have different church members into our home for a meal and “no agenda” conversation. And though we have fallen short of hosting every week, we’ve had 26 more families in our home than we would have otherwise!
From crying babies to roaming toddlers to saints in their 90s, we have thoroughly enjoyed all these gatherings. God is in it. There’s just nothing that compares to sitting around your table in the comforts of your home to share a prayer, a meal and a conversation.
We usually start by asking couples how they met, and the fun begins! Or we play some game. Or we just visit.
These times have been inspiring, hilarious, loud, quiet, educational and life-giving. The impact on others has gone far beyond expectations.
When the gospel burst onto the scene of first century Judaism, 3,000 Jews became Christians in one day. Many were from out of town, visiting Jerusalem for Pentecost and far from home. Having been steeped in both Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern hospitality, the local Christians took it to another level.
Acts 2:46-47 says, “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Christian hospitality both reminds us of the gospel and is a means of spreading the gospel. It pictures God opening His home, His table and His heart to us, inviting us in to dine with Him. Sharing a meal communicates sharing values and fellowship. Hospitality, like the gospel itself, says to others, “You matter. You are loved. You are welcome here.”
So Peter exhorts us to “be hospitable to one another without complaint” (I Peter 4:9) like we trust he was with his feverish mother-in-law. If we will obey this simple command, the benefits will far outweigh the cost.
So pour some water, make some soup and invite your friends to refresh themselves under your roof. When it’s over, you will be the one most refreshed.