Introduction: What is Hospitality?
As you go to the word to define hospitality you find the idea of “welcome.” We see in the book of Acts that as people went on missionary journeys they were welcomed into the home of others there temporarily to stay. We see the idea of welcoming guests and strangers (Hebrews 13:2). We see the idea welcoming other believers (Romans 15:7).
So, hospitality has a disposition that says, “I see you and you’re welcome in my life and presence.” There’s a disposition that’s followed by intentional actions that convey that welcome of others into our life and presence.
I want to define it that carefully and that broadly for two reasons: 1) that carefully because I don’t think hospitality is the same as fellowship or evangelism, we will get to that at the end 2) that broadly because I think hospitality can happen in all sorts of different ways, it doesn’t have to be the cookie cutter picture and there’s freedom to make this idea your own.
The Happy Hospitality of Christ to Us
Our hospitality is rooted in and a picture of the hospitality of God in Christ to us.
Think with me of the disposition of welcome from Jesus, this disposition that says, “I see you and you’re welcome in my presence.” We see this in the gospels.
Jesus received sinners to himself (Luke 15:2), welcomed the outcast woman (Mark 5), and moved towards the leper (Matthew 8). There’s not a stiff-arm of Jesus away from sinners but a welcoming in to his presence. Jesus doesn’t have a house and I think he’s still showing a disposition of hospitality, of welcome, even to strangers and sinners.
And the welcome of God to us in Christ is even more stunning as we realize the way we’ve been welcomed to the life and presence of God. Because of Jesus, God says, “I see you and you’re welcomed into my life and presence.” Think of all of the pictures of hospitality we have promised to us in the gospel.
In Isaiah 55 we see the invitation of hospitality in the gospel to come and eat and drink of the bread and water that are no price. It’s a free invitation. We’re called to stop laboring ourselves and enjoy and come to take of his divine hospitality of living bread and water.
In Psalm 23 it is said that God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies and he anoints our heads with oil and our cup overflows. That picture is a picture of God saying, “even when sin and suffering surround you with dark clouds, you’re welcome here. You’re my favored guest. I will bless you and welcome you with abundance!”
In the gospels and in 1 Corinthians 11 we see that we are invited to come and eat and drink with Christ at the communion table. He’s inviting us into his presence and into fellowship with him again and again.
In John 14, Jesus says that he is going to prepare a place for us to be with him and invited into his life and presence forever.
In Ephesians 2 there is a beautiful picture that we were once far off, aliens, and strangers, but in Christ, we’ve been brought near and we have access to the presence of God forever by the Spirit and because of the blood of Jesus. We are welcomed when we were yet sinners and strangers and welcomed by the blood of Jesus and become a holy temple in the Lord.
In Revelation 19 we see that we will be at the wedding supper of the Lamb. Because of Jesus we will be in his presence, welcomed there forever and sitting at the table with him enjoying the ultimate hospitality.
So, in Jesus we see the ultimate hospitality as we realize the Father sees us, and provides the ultimate self-sacrifice to welcome us into his presence fully, freely, and forever.
Our Happy Hospitality: A Pointer to God’s Welcome to Us
Therefore, our hospitality begins to point to the hospitality we have received in Christ. The self-giving love required points to his self-giving love at the cross. The generosity required points to his generosity. The kindness required points to his kindness at the cross. And all of our hospitality – our self-giving love, our generosity, and our kindness will be an overflow of tasting the goodness of the Lord to us in this way so deeply that we want to spread the feast of joy.
With the welcome we have received in Christ, we should be a very welcoming people, regularly saying, “I see you and you’re welcome in my presence”!
- Seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
- Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)
- Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)
Now, I just want to say something really clearly. Hospitality does not have to look any certain way. It doesn’t have to look like a Pinterest board. It doesn’t have to look fancy. It doesn’t have to look immaculate. It can and sometimes that can be sweet and loving, but don’t let those artificial barriers keep you from being hospitable.
It might look like the neighborhood kids coming over to the yard to run through the sprinkler and eat popsicles. It might look like taking time to ask about eating lunch with a coworker. It might look like meeting up at a park to chat while the kids play. It might look like an elaborate meal or party. It can be simple or elaborate – but we’re called to show people the love of Christ by seeing them and welcoming them in our lives.
Application: Happy Hospitality As A Doorway to Fellowship and Evangelism
So, why do hospitality? Because it is a doorway to fellowship and evangelism. The hospitality of God towards humans always leads to fellowship (for believers who have been saved by Jesus) or it leads to evangelism (as unbelievers come into contact with the person of Christ).
And so, because our hospitality is an overflow of the delight we have that God has welcomed us, we hope our efforts lead to these things as well. We hope the lunch, coffee, yard-time with neighborhood kids, and chats at the park lead to opportunities to share the good news that God has welcomed us in Christ.
Or, as a blood-bought family, we seek opportunities to know and love each other and invite one another into each other’s lives, we seek to have real fellowship happen where we gather and rejoice together in God’s goodness to us in Christ.
But, again, sometimes we shut these things down because we can’t find the time for a four-course meal. Instead of thinking, “How do I have to make my house perfect” maybe you need to think, “who could I invite to the park with us for a picnic.” Or, what co-worker could I take out to lunch. Or what family could we go invite to the football game we’re going to with us from church. Or, go for it and throw the big meal and have the big party and let it be a picture of the extravagant grace of Christ. No matter what the goal is a heart with a disposition to say to others, “I see you and you’re welcome in my life and presence” and then you pray for true fellowship and evangelism to follow.