Hospitality. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that dreaded word that makes every Christian feel guilty for not keeping up with our housekeeping. It’s the word that says I’m a failure as a Christian if:
- “I don’t have all the kids toys picked up 10 minutes after they’ve finished playing with them.”
- “I don’t host a small group every year.”
- “I don’t have home made cookies just coming out of the oven when someone happens to drop by.”
- “I haven’t had a church member over for a meal at least once a month.”
- “My house isn’t always available for people to drop by, whether that be my next door neighbour or long forgotten ‘friends’ from out of town looking for a bed for a couple of nights.”
- “My kid doesn’t want to share toys when you bring your kid on a visit.”
- “I attend a cookout at someone else’s home, but never “fire up the barbie” myself – regardless of how many chips and drinks I bring.”
- “I can’t fit the entire church youth group in my living room.”
- “A guest spots a speck of dust I missed while frantically moving all the papers on the counter to a drawer as her car pulls into the driveway.”
- “My TV isn’t big enough for five people to watch ‘the game’ at the same time.”
The word “hospitality” can strike fear in the heart of the best housekeeper… let alone the worst. But I have GOOD NEWS for you. 🙂
“Hospitality is all about the heart, not the house.”
Since Jesus didn’t even have his own house, it can’t be about the house. The biggest question a study of hospitality raises is this: “Do you have enough room in your life for another person?” In the parable of the Great Feast in Luke 14 God keeps sending his servants out looking for guests until his house is full. Each time the guests already present could be excused for thinking, “but we already have enough people.” Or, “I’m just getting to know these folks and you want to go get more?”
Christian hospitality means Christians wear a t-shirt that says, “I genuinely want to be your friend.” We bring this attitude to new converts. We make the effort to meet new faces in our Sunday assemblies. We particularly wear this shirt when we’re out in public interacting with the world. We let people know that we have room for them in our lives.
“According to one study, new members who stay beyond their first year made an average of seven new friends in the church. Those who dropped out made fewer than two.” (From a good article here.)
In my experience churches/Christians are great at being friendly to each other and guests on Sunday. Hospitality and genuine friendship takes these relationships into the week. It might involve a meal. It might mean taking the kids to the part together. It might mean volunteering for a ministry together. It might mean going to the movies together. It might mean just exchanging phone numbers or looking someone up on Facebook.
Hospitality is the act of inviting someone else into my life.
We express our love for God by inviting Him into our lives. Similarly, we express our love for our neighbours when we invite them to share life with us. Sunday politeness is just that, politeness. Love for neighbour invests in a relationship.
- Do you have 7 friends at your church? Do you agree that 7 is a “must have”?
- Friendships come with many degrees of depth. What type of friendship are you looking for in your 7 people? Or what’s the minimum level for the 2? (Eg. I played golf with a couple of guys twice last summer, and that was(not) good enough for me.)
- Can you think of some more items to add to my list of hospitality related failures?
- How often do you gain new friends?