“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:8-11 (ESV).
When we think of hospitality, we often think of having people over for dinner, where you serve your friends fine food on your best china. At times, this will include some entertainment, perhaps a sporting event, a game, or some other type of activity. Now, that’s all part of hospitality. But that’s not all of Biblical hospitality.
Most people see hospitality as something only certain people should do because they are good or gifted. That is not how the Bible speaks about hospitality. Hospitality is not a gift some of us have; it is a command for all of God’s People. 1 Peter 4 says we are to love each other deeply. As a body of Christ we are commanded to love one another, and one of those aspects of loving others is through hospitality. Showing hospitality to others is a command from God and a central byproduct of the Christian life. Hospitality is not limited to our homes.
Perhaps the first and most obvious application of Peter’s words is welcoming new people to church. Many people will attend church during this Christmas season; their circumstances will vary greatly. Some are believers who are visiting from out of town with their family while on vacation. It may be years before they come back again. Others may have just moved into the area and are looking for a church. Others may have just had some life crisis and are looking for answers to life’s problems. No matter the circumstances, the goal is still the same. We are called to “show hospitality” to them. They are strangers. And we are called to love and welcome them.
Visiting a church is a difficult thing. The building is new. The people are unknown. The way of doing things is new. Perhaps they are just standing there, not quite knowing who to talk to or what to do. Approach them. Talk with them. Introduce yourself to them. Make them feel welcome. So, if you see somebody you don’t know here at church, they qualify as a stranger. Love them. Practice the golden rule with them. Treat them like you would like to be treated. Show them hospitality. God has called us to live by a different approach than the world, to offer hospitality without grumbling.
Colossians 4:5 (NIV) says “ Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” Ask that God would give you wisdom in your dealings with strangers.
During this Christmas season our prayer is that anyone visiting Northstar would go home encouraged by the love and hospitality that they experienced from our church family.
- Who is someone in your life that you would describe as hospitable? What characteristics do you notice as they serve others? In what ways would you like to grow in this area?
- What can you do to welcome strangers at our church services? What fears or misunderstandings about hospitality keep you from reaching out to others?