My family and I experienced something this past weekend that seems to be something of a lost art within Christian circles. It was not necessarily a life changing experience, and it had nothing to do with coming forward at the end of a message. In fact, what happened to us did not even take place in a church. It happened in the home of strangers. We were the recipients of some good old-fashioned, Christian hospitality.
I am not talking about a smile and a handshake after a meeting here. These people, who were friends of friends, had never met us before and called to invite us to spend Easter with them. We went to church, and then arrived at their home around noon. We didn’t leave until almost 5 o’clock in the evening.
We didn’t have much in common with these folks. They are older than my wife and I. They have teenagers while our oldest child is eight. They both have very good jobs with a steady income. I am a church planter, and my wife stays home with our kids. In the natural, there was not much to draw us together. But we had a great time with them.
I believe God has given them something that a lot of the Church is lacking these days. They have a gift of being hospitable. We don’t hear much in the Church about hospitality, at least I don’t. We hear about money and marriage and politics and cultural relevance, but we don’t hear about bringing people into our homes and loving and serving them.
The Bible is pretty strong on hospitality, if we take a moment to look. Abraham entertained angels in Genesis 18. Romans 12:13 and Hebrews 13:2 challenge us to seek to show hospitality to saints and strangers alike. The qualifications for overseers in 1 Timothy and in Titus both include “hospitable”.
I realize that there may have been more opportunity to be hospitable back in the days before Holiday Inns and McDonalds. At the time the Bible was written, it was not unusual for travelers to seek to stay in someone’s home for the night. They were given a meal and a bed and were served until they moved on. I understand that we don’t do that today.
How we practice hospitality today will look different than the Biblical examples, but the heart remains the same. It is about opening up our homes and our lives to love and serve those around us. It is bringing in friends and strangers to bless them and help them along their way.
We live in a society that is very connected but not always very personal. It is becoming more and more automated. We see people at work, at school or even at church and are content to leave them there. My eyes have recently been opened to the state of loneliness that a lot of people live in. It is a very sad state to be in.
In Matthew 25, Jesus is running down a list of things that might be important on that final judgment day. He says that in seeing the stranger and taking him in, we are serving Christ. It isn’t as difficult as we might think it is.
We can go to the neighbors and invite them over for a meal. Holidays are a natural time to invite others to join us in our celebration. Summertime is great for asking a coworker to our house for a cook out. Invite them, and when they come, serve them.
We need to do it for those we know and love and for those who are still strangers.
I would like to thank the Vreelands for having us to their home on Easter. Thank you for making us feel welcome and a part of your family. Thank you for the meal, the Easter egg hunt and the conversation. Thank you for being a Biblical example of hospitality. I hope that my family might be able to pass on your gift to someone else soon.