I have this fantastically challenging job that has forced me to dig deep to figure out what scripture says about Hospitality, welcoming, and loving those who are not like us…
Simply put, as believers and followers of Christ, “How do we care for everyone else?”
Because I have gotten so many people asking me what I have learned and discovered, this post is the basic scratching the surface of the information I have gathered for you to explore. This is by no means the end of my thoughts nor the information I have gathered, but it is a start.
Throughout the process of figuring out how to do Hospitality and Connections well, I have taken a few steps back and decided to base much of my beliefs and approach on scripture; not a new concept, but compared to what I can find in materials currently out there, this is not a topic explored much.
As I have connected with other churches working through this same topic, here are the thoughts and questions I keep coming up to:
“Anyone can do hospitality.” – (Theoretically, but not practically.)
“If you don’t know where to serve, join the hospitality team” – (This is a poor way to help people step into their giftings)
“Why does a church need to pay attention to ‘first impressions’?” – (Because God cares about it, cultures are based around it, and you funnel every decision you make through it.)
“Is there any scripture backing up hospitality?” – (Yes. Loads and loads of information.)
“Hospitality and connections always seems like such a fun feel good ministry.” – (It absolutely IS a fun ministry, but it carries the weight significantly more than a feel good ministry.)
Each encounter and discussion has created more questions, but more than that, a resolution to understand all facets of this ministry.
God HAS to care what the hospitality of His people looks like and how they act.
I found cute little google sayings about how you should show hospitality to everyone, because you may just be entertaining angels.
It is so cute.
It’s also scripture.
So, then, we have to back up and find where the concept of Christian hospitality actually comes from and what does it mean? Only when we truly understand how we should approach hospitality as a church community can we begin to move towards healing relationships we have broken.
I started the only place I knew to when researching scripture, my dad.
The word “hospitality” is directly descended from the Latin “hospitalitas”
Meaning, “to be friendly or kind to strangers or guests.”
The Greek words φιλονεξία and φιλόξενος are translated “hospitality” in scripture,
Literally mean, “to show love to strangers.”
Both words derive from two Greek words, “philia,” which means, “love,”
and “xenos” which means, “foreigner, stranger or guest.”
So, that’s a start.
Straight up, hospitality means at the root, to show love to strangers.
This gets deep and complicated quickly from here on in.
Then I shifted my searching to BibleGateway.com.
I prefer the NASB translation, although I looked up all the same words in the NIV knowing that it is quite popular as well, and some words appear more or less in various translations.
80 Bible results for “Doorway” NASB – (16 in the NIV)
73 Bible results for “Entrance” NASB – (147 in the NIV)
25 Bible results for “Threshold” NASB – (18 in the NIV
24 Bible results for “Greeting” NASB – (46 in the NIV)
14 Bible results for “Doorpost” NASB – (7 in the NIV)
12 Bible results for “Welcome” NASB – (40 in the NIV)
6 Bible results for “Welcomed” NASB – (18 in the NIV)
3 Bible results for “Hospitality” NASB – (7 in the NIV)
3 Bible results for “Hospitable” NASB – (2 in the NIV)
2 Bible results for “Welcoming” NASB – (0 in the NIV)
269 Total Bible Results in the NASB – (301 in the NIV)
(Not every single reference is applicable to this topic, sometimes it’s merely a spacial reference)
So, why did I look up so many different words if hospitality or welcoming is really what I was aiming at? Because, I think there are elements to the physical setting prepared ahead of time that create a feeling of comfort and welcome.
I liken it to this, when I invite people over to my house, I clean, I prepare food, I ensure there is seating, the lighting is inviting and warm. I do as much as I can to be prepared well ahead of their arrival so that when they knock on my door, I am ready with my full attention, smiles, hugs, and the preparations already completed.
My entire goal is to make them feel comfortable, loved, cared about, and welcome in my home.
While we are under new blood because of what Jesus did on the Cross, I do not believe that God no longer cares about presentation. No portion of any culture does not still currently care about presentation. Where I think the shift has happened is that God has transitioned to the importance no longer with His physical tabernacle, Holy of Holies, but to us, his people.
You see, hundreds of references to the doorway, doorpost, and entrance to his temple are in the old testament. Right down to the decoration, carvings, colors, timing of and what sacrifices were to be done at the entrance. And then, if things were done incorrectly, he could choose to kill you on the spot.. Instant death.
In Egypt, the doorway/doorpost was where the angel of death decided if the first-born would die or be passed over.
There is no way that something so important simply ceases to be important, it just shifts to being applied differently.
Then, you get to the New Testament, and there is reinforcement of what happened in the Old Testament. There is a shift in the focus of ministry, we are told repeatedly to love our neighbors, which in some parables were people entirely different and disliked by us, including those who persecute us, it even goes so far as to say be hospitable without complaint.
484 Bible results for “Love” – NASB (686 in the NIV)
I am working through researching the trail that in order to show Hospitality to strangers, we must first submit ourselves entirely to love them without rules or stipulations. It is assumed that the stranger is not a believer, which means we have no space for comments or judgement on their life.
Instead, we are to love them wholly, completely, and in the process we create space for a relationship, which then gives way to sharing where our Hope comes from, and then we have the opportunity to show them Jesus, and then Jesus changes them from the inside outward.
The place I have started my search is through the intersection of love and hospitality is 1 Corinthians 13.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
but do not have love,
I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy,
and know all mysteries and all knowledge;
and if I have all faith,
so as to remove mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor,
and if I surrender my body to be burned,
but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient,
Love is kind and is not jealous;
Love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness,
but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never fails;
but if there are gifts of prophecy,
they will be done away;
if there are tongues, they will cease;
if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child;
when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
For now we see in a mirror dimly,
but then face to face;
now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
But now faith,
abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Hospitality and Love cross completely in Hebrews 13:
“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.”
Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is merely the beginning, but because people have begun to ask what I have found, I thought I would compile some of my findings and thoughts. Soon I hope to continue to share what I find as I grow and learn.
To Be Continued…