I love the start of a New Year. It offers a valuable opportunity to evaluate the previous year and determine areas of focus, goals, and changes in behavior for the coming year.
As 2011 neared its end, I regularly thought about the ministry of hospitality. During one weekend when I was not feeling so hospitable, my hubby reminded me that we are hospitable people and our home is a place where hospitality is offered graciously and generously. So, we decided to host a Game Night.
It is sometimes said, “Christians are the hands and feet of Jesus.” We administer his love to those who do not yet know him and as a reminder to others who already do. I know people who are challenged by the thought of serving others and welcoming strangers into their home as friends, but being hospitable is not as daunting as it may seem.
I explained this to my aunt when I visited with her over the summer. Over much laughter, I asked, “You don’t have a toothbrush?” I was spending that night in her home for a trip that was hastily planned. It was after ten o’clock at night and there was nowhere for me to go to make this much needed purchase.
“Really, you don’t have an extra tooth brush?”
Her response: Well, I never have house guests.
Me: I know, but you might. You know, like tonight.
The predicament got my wheels turning about hospitality. Something as simple as having an extra toothbrush on hand speaks volumes to an overnight visitor. It says, “I was hoping you’d come and I want you to be comfortable while you’re here.” Hospitality gives us the opportunity to speak love through our actions and service and not just our words.
What does it truly mean to be hospitable? And what do Christians do when they don’t have this spiritual gift? Certainly, some of us are gifted to serve others in a special way. I enjoy entertaining, hosting folks in my home or elsewhere. I enjoy serving others, sharing with them, and I certainly enjoy eating great food. Jesus himself placed a priority on renewing others with food (Luke 9:12-13, Mark 5:41-43), and don’t forget about the whole water to wine thing at the wedding celebration.
As Christians, we must reject the idea that hospitality is a special responsibility for a select few. The ministry of hospitality is something we are all called to do. The Apostle Peter wrote, we are to “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9).” He also encourages us all to, “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality (Rom 12:13).” He teaches Titus that a leader “must be hospitable (Titus 1:8).”
Hospitality is about so much more than entertaining. It’s about creating an environment where others feel welcomed and safe. It’s about considering the lengths that you are willing to go to develop deep and rich relationships. Being hospitable people gives us the opportunity to share God’s love and grace with others. May this year be the year we consider being more hospitable to our neighbors.
How can we become more hospitable people? How can hospitality open doors for ministry? Why is it difficult to administer God’s grace to others?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2012