In last week’s post, I emphasized the importance of loving the church, our brothers and sisters in Christ. This week I want to drill down a little further into what that looks like. Practicing hospitality is one way we tangibly express our love for one another in the church. In his booklet on hospitality, Alexander Strauch said:
Hospitality is love in action. Hospitality is the flesh and muscle on the bones of love. Through caring acts of hospitality, the reality of our love is tested. (pg. 38)
I recently heard a pastor remark that a church can be friendly and not be loving. “Friendliness,” he said, “evaporates when the service is over and everyone leaves the building.” I believe he is right. Hospitality is going beyond friendliness in opening our homes and lives to one another in the church. Listen again to Strauch:
I don’t think most Christians today understand how essential hospitality is to fanning the flames of love and strengthening the Christian family. Hospitality fleshes out love in a uniquely personal and sacrificial way. Through the ministry of hospitality, we share our most prized possessions. We share our family, home, finances, food, privacy, and time. Indeed, we share our very lives. So, hospitality is always costly. Through the ministry of hospitality, we provide friendship, acceptance, fellowship, refreshment, comfort, and love in one of the richest deepest ways possible for humans to understand. Unless we open the doors of our homes to one another, the reality of the local church as a close-knit family of loving brothers and sisters is only a theory. (pg. 17, emphasis mine)
As we often say at Redeemer, our aim is to be disciple-making disciples. Discipleship, helping each other follow Jesus, requires that we spend time together. Hospitality is an avenue for expressing love to one another as well as providing opportunities for discipleship.
One final encouragement relating to hospitality…PLAN IT! If we don’t plan it, it will not happen. Set goals of having fellow church members in your home once or twice a month. Also, be intentional about who you invite, avoid extending hospitality only to those with whom you already have natural friendships. In short, seek to extend hospitality to the diverse gospel community that exists within the church.
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” –Romans 12:13