Hospitality and the Gospel: Earning Trust, One Meal at a Time

Imagine with me that you have just moved into a new home. You are still unpacking boxes; the smell of paint lingers in the air as you are still trying to figure out exactly where you put the remote control. You have barely had time to make your bed, let alone meet your neighbors. You take a break for a minute, and then the doorbell rings. You curiously open the door to find neighbors greeting you with a warm meal, smiles, and offers of help.

Unfortunately, this scene is becoming rare in our present society. We no longer live as the “Cleavers” did in the 1950’s— when hospitality was not only expected, but the normal way of life. These days, pulling into the driveway, closing the garage door, and watching neighbors through the window might be the extent of social interaction that goes on within our “neighbor”hoods. With the lowered expectation of socialization in society, hospitality becomes an even more effective manner for reflecting Christ in our culture.

It is no coincidence that hospitality is given as a requirement for church leaders. In 1 Timothy 3, hospitality is listed alongside fidelity and sobriety. Of all the types of people across the world, Christians should be the most loving, generous, and hospitable. The grace of God in a believer’s life should flow into every relationship that she has, and can serve as a foundational effort in evangelism.

Being hospitable does not mean that you have to own a pristine home—complete with all the finest trends and amenities—or that you have to be a gourmet chef. Hospitality has to do more with the purpose involved rather than the means provided. After all, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that we can give away every penny we have and even burn at the stake in vain if we do not have love. The intent of hospitality is a serious issue—it is about the compassion evident in a believer’s life as a result of the grace God has abundantly given. Luke 7:47 reminds us that the one who has been forgiven much, loves much. Hospitality does not have to be anything fancy. You are simply called to share what the Lord has abundantly blessed you with, even if your resources don’t amount to much in the eyes of the world around you.

There are some very practical ways in which you can show a hospitable spirit:

• Invite someone over for a meal, a cup of coffee, or dessert
• Open your home for individuals that need a place to stay
• Buy groceries for someone you know who is in need
• Babysit (at no charge)
• Allow your home to be used for Bible studies or discipleship groups
• Allow someone to borrow your car

I learned a lesson in hospitality several years ago when I had just begun attending the church I would later join. I overheard someone discussing how a particular family had taken in two college students for the summer, so that the students could save the rent money that their college would have charged them to live in the dorms. I remember thinking to myself how that family must have a large home, with lots of extra space. Several months later, I was invited to that family’s home for a Bible study and was very surprised to find that their house was not large, and very plain. A true picture of hospitality became very clear to me that day, and that family’s example has stuck with me all these years as I strive to be more giving and Christlike.

So sisters, may we hold our possessions loosely and show the world we are Christians by the way we love one another (John 13:35). Finally, may we reveal our anticipation for the coming kingdom by extending arms of hospitality wide enough to reach even the strongest skeptic, because of the generous grace of God.

How have you seen this in your own life? Has hospitality opened doors for the Gospel for you?

This article was first published January 2009 by WMU

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About the Author

Liz Lockwood

Liz Lockwood

Liz Lockwood graduated from Southern Seminary in 2005, with an M.Div. and Th.M. in theology. She recently joined the staff at Revive Our Hearts, where she serves in the area of communication and social media. When not behind her desk, you'll find Liz spending time with friends and enjoying the outdoors.

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