WHAT IS BIBLICAL HOSPITALITY?
Biblical hospitality is displaying Christ to others by welcoming them into our homes and thus into our very lives.
Christians are a hospitable people because Christ has graciously welcomed us into the family of God by his grace. We who were once strangers are now children of God. Therefore, welcoming the stranger in is a natural overflow of gospel grace in our lives. As the Apostles Paul puts it, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)”
Other scripture on Hospitality include Romans 12:3; 12:20, 1 Peter 4:9, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, 1 Timothy 5:10, Hebrews 13:2, Isaiah 58:7, Luke 14:13-14, Genesis 18:4; 24:31, Job 31:32, Acts 2:46; 16:15; 21:8; 28:2.
HOSPITALITY AS MISSION
There are many ways we can bring the gospel to unbelieving neighbors, friends, co-workers, and strangers. You could invite them to an evangelistic class, stop a stranger on the bus and begin sharing christ, invite someone to a church gathering where you know they will hear the gospel in the sermon. These are great things! Do them. But what if the simplest and most effective tool for evangelism is right in front of you?
Luke 7:34 tells us, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” Tim Chester comments, “Jesus spent his time eating and drinking … His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship round a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread and a pitcher of wine.”
When we display Christ to others by welcoming them to our dinner tables, we create the context in which we can declare Christ to them. Rosaria Butterfield puts it this way,
“Our post-Christian neighbors need to hear and see and taste and feel authentic Christianity, hospitality spreading from every Christian home that includes neighbors in prayer, food, friendship, childcare, dog walking, and all the daily matters upon which friendships are built.”
Butterfield elsewhere says, “Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors and neighbors family of God.”
HOW DO WE DO IT?
Cultivate a deep love for Jesus and his mission: You can’t give others what you don’t have. If your life is full of Christ, those you invite in will take notice. This doesn’t mean you “have it all together”? At the core of the Christian life is admitting that we don’t have it all together. We are sinners in need of Jesus. But we’re continually running to him.
Pray: Ask God to remove any fears you may have of opening your home. Pray for neighbors, friends, co-workers, and strangers you want to invite in. Pray for conversations to steer toward Jesus and the discernment to know what to say and when to say it. Pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done at your dinner table as it is in heaven.
Plan: Decide when and how frequently you will open your home for hospitality as mission. Put it on the calendar and guard those times. If you are not used to opening up your home this way, start with a small goal (maybe once or twice a month) and work towards more frequency.
Include Your Church Community: Biblical mission does not happen in isolation. Include other Christians. This will help others learn hospitality as mission. You will also display to unbelievers Christian love for one another in an attractive way (John 13:35).
Equip Yourself: Something so simple should come easy, right? But in our individualistic society hospitality is hard to learn for many of us. Thankfully God has given some great resources to the church. Books like The Gospel Comes With A House Key by Rosaria Butterfield and A Meal With Jesus by Tim Chester are extremely helpful.
We must also be conversant with the gospel. To display the gospel without declaring it is to be unfaithful to the mission. Books like The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever and Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt are helpful.
Questions in a Box is a great resource that gives you a number of helpful questions as you seek to point others to Jesus. Be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within you (1 Peter 3:15).
Jesus tells us in Mark 4:26–27, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how.”
As you step into hospitality as mission you will need to do so with patience and prayer. This is not just a project. The goal is not to host a few meals and then move on to the next thing. The desire is to cultivate a life of hospitality as we journey through this world because Christ has been so lavishly hospitable in welcoming sinners like us into the family of God by grace through faith. We open our homes and our lives. We display and declare Christ. We sow the seed and trust the Lord of the harvest to give growth.