This is pt. 3 in our series aimed at cultivating love for God & His people. In the previous post, you were encouraged to prioritize church gatherings. In this post, we will discuss hospitality:
Our mission led us to very remote regions to the south of Kunming city, China. The exact nature of that mission will have to wait for another day to describe, but we were searching for something.
Thankfully, if it was later in the day, the customs of that region often resulted in someone inviting these 4 foreign strangers into their homes to spend the night. This included them providing dinner, breakfast, and a room. It was no small effort on their part to welcome us. This time was different though. It was toward the end of a very long day of biking through beautiful mountainous and rough terrain, on dusty dirt roads, in the heat of summer that we entered a small town and left with nobody offering a place for us to stay.
The next town was a distance away. The road to get there was a winding, steep dirt road with sheer cliff faces and switch-backs. And it was getting dark. This would’ve been a very dangerous ride to do at night. So, we went a little ways out of the village, said a prayer, found a small turnout on the side of the road, huddled up, and tried to sleep under the stars. It was a long…cold night.
The scriptures have MUCH to say about hospitality. The essence of Biblical hospitality is NOT being a good host to your friends or family. Biblical hospitality is geared toward demonstrating tangible kindness to strangers and seeking to meet their needs:
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 19:33-34, emphasis added).
Did that bold text sound familiar? It’s because Jesus quoted from Leviticus 19 in Matthew 22:34-40 when He discussed the 2 great commandments. That should warrant closer examination for sure!
We could say much more, for now let me encourage you to make it a priority to show tangible kindness and love to strangers. In the interest of keeping it brief, let’s get practical regarding church gatherings, small groups, etc.
Make a point to seek out and greet people you don’t know or haven’t seen before on Sunday mornings & regular gatherings. Set a goal, like 2-3 new people each week, 1 or 2 before service and 1 or 2 after service.
Seek to remember their name, possibly get their contact information, and try to encourage them in the week. If you forgot their name, own it: “I’m sorry, I’m terrible with names, what was your name again?” And try to remember it.
What about your friends though? When do you get to fellowship with them? Consider taking a friend WITH you to meet new people. Do it together. Biblical hospitality is best done in community. In so doing, you all grow and show the love of Christ.
Going to lunch after church with your group of friends that you’ve known for a long time? Invite a new person along to that lunch. It is good and Biblical for believers to intentionally consider others and systematically work to bring new-comers in. It is unbiblical to NOT think about showing love to those on the fringes for the sake of our own comforts and familiarity in our social circles.
Ask good questions after the initial small talk. You’d be surprised how the nations come to and join us for worship on Maui. You’d also be surprised at the amount of other religions that have been represented simply on a Sunday morning gathering at KBC. We’ve had adherents of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Atheism, Buddhism, and many others join us on a Sunday morning for one reason or another. I wouldn’t have known had I not probed a little deeper.
If you have followed the first 2 posts suggestions and have prayed, prioritized the gathered body by coming early, staying later, and leaving margin, then you will have MANY opportunities to minister the gospel this year and grow in Christ-likeness.