The Bible is full of passages telling the people of God to show hospitality both to each other and to those who do not belong to the kingdom of God. In the Old Testament Israel was told to welcome the alien and to not take advantage of them many times. In the New Testament 1 Peter 4 tells Christians to be hospitable to one another and in Hebrews 13 we are commanded to do the same that Israel had been commanded to do and welcome those who are not like us. This is something that is supposed to mark the Christian community as different from the rest of the world. Sadly, though with all the evidence we have in scripture that hospitality is an important marker of Christianity, it is required of those called to be overseers, it may be one of the most overlooked pieces of Christian life.
One of the greatest examples of what a hospitable life looks like comes from my dad. I know this might come as a shock to some given the bad press, he has received in some of my previous posts. However, I always remember my dad showing hospitality. He loved having people at his house. One of my dad’s favorite things to do which also tends to be some of my favorite memories at my dad’s house was to host large parties where he smoked large amounts of meat, offered a few sides and had the basic drink necessities for an Oklahoma cookout. If you had a specific beverage you wanted, you may have needed to bring it but often you would not need to. There was no ulterior motive to these events just my dad wanting to enjoy the company of others and connect his friends.
Now I understand that most people cannot do this in their daily life. My dad owned a farm where he raised his own cattle and pigs for meat and thus, we always had and abundance of meat that could be shared. He also had the space which is something that can be hard to come by for many of us. For you, hospitality may look like serving on a church welcoming committee making sure people feel seen and safe when they come to your church. Hospitality could take the form of taking a friend to coffee so that they can have a safe place to find rest and understand that they are not alone in this world.
We are not called to hospitality because it is fun or easy. We are called to hospitality because our fellow humans need to feel seen and heard. By being hospitable we allow people to have their basic psychological needs met. This kind of safe place offers those in this world who need hope and healing to find these things in the only place that offers hope that does not disappoint.