There are a few families in my life that do hospitality really well. When I say hospitality, I mean the act of generously inviting people INTO your home and into your life. This invitation is not exclusive, but rather inclusive, and ever growing.
I think hospitality is absolutely a value of Jesus’. In fact, when he sent out the disciples two by two, He gave very specific instruction that they were to stay as guests in people’s homes and only stay at homes where the people expressed welcome. If they did not express welcome, the disciples were to leave that ENTIRE town. Basically, the expression of hospitality paved the way for the Gospel story to permeate towns.
The Bible actually has a lot to stay about hospitality.
Hebrews 13:2 – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Luke 14:12-14 – He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Genesis 24:31 – He said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”
It seems to me that the there is a common thread throughout the Bible that those who are generous and hospitable reap blessing from God and get to experience a deeper relationship with Him. That’s not why we do it, of course. We understand that our acts of generosity and hospitality actually change people’s eternal trajectories. Our bigger ‘yes’ to God’s call to be hospitable can radically affect all parties involved. The guest experiences more of God’s love for them and so does the host. The reciprocity of blessing in the Kingdom of God continues to amaze me. And, really, who doesn’t want to experience God’s blessing?
What does hospitality with a family look like? Some of you might think this is radical – then Jesus is probably inviting your family into a bigger opportunity to say ‘yes’ to His mission. For those of you that this sounds like a Monday night – keep going – you’re leaning into God’s mission for your family.
Hospitality looks like having people over for dinner regularly and cooking! Hospitality looks like gathering people on Sunday afternoon to watch the football game in your home and letting the kids run around with their friends. Hospitality looks like letting someone crash in your extra bed for a week while things got a little complicated in their living situation. Hospitality looks like people feeling comfortable opening the front door of your house instead of nervous to ring the bell. Your family’s welcome to others can say a lot about who Jesus is.
Now – we might have so many valid reasons or excuses to skip hospitality. My own heart leans towards the Mid- Atlantic’s favorite one, “I’m just too busy.” Well – frankly – your should probably be reordering your priorities. There’s a hundred others – “I don’t have enough space. This would be too hard with parking. I don’t have anyone to invite. My home isn’t nice enough.” Pardon my bluntness but – UGH! Who cares? Really? Trust me – your heart, your love, and your wide open door are the only things you need to be hospitable. No one ever cares about the space. They’re touched by your generosity.
There’s one more – very specific – family excuse that I’ve heard. “We really like to guard our home as a family space. A place to really have for retreat for our kids and us.” Okay. I get that the world whizzes by us and we’re full of activities that divide our attention away from our children. However, I’ve observed families that do hospitality well and there is a common action they take. They invite their children into the act of being hospitable. They treat hospitality as a family mission encouraging their kids to be equally as welcoming and equally as involved in hosting the guests. I love when my friends’ kids meet me at the door to let me in and I love when they sit with us at dinner and join in on the conversation.
I believe that parents can really teach their children a lot about who Jesus is and what He’s about when they choose to open their doors to others. With a model like that, kids are being set up for their own lifetime to be full of Kingdom blessing from their acts of generosity. Let’s show our kids how to live a life rich in relationship with God and others.