Are you xenophobic or philoxenic? Hospitality is something commanded and modelled in the Bible. The Greek word used in the bible for hospitality literally means to welcome strangers. Are we welcoming, loving and hospitable to people who at the moment are strangers to us? Welcome them into our lives, into our church and into our nation.
God is the great host
For God, hospitality is part of who he is. He chooses people and invites them to dine with him; to live with him; and to stay with him.
Jesus Christ by his death and resurrection prepares a place where we can stay. He invites us to go there for a very, very long time. (Isaiah 55, Psalm 23, John 14).
What is so amazing about God’s hospitality is that we didn’t ask for it or deserve it. We weren’t even his friend. He wasn’t repaying our dinner invitation from 6 months ago. He just invited us, his actual enemies, as if we were his closest family.
It cost God a lot. So much. The death of his Son. Not just a few cheap biscuits from the convenience store. It is a banquet made possible by sacrifice and motivated purely by love.
And now God’s hospitality is the model for us. God’s people in the Old Testament were called to be hospitable to foreigners and the church is commanded to practise hospitality – to keep doing it and get really good at it.
Welcome people into the church
We must work hard to give people a good experience as they come from street to seat. Welcome like we really are glad to see them. Not just if we’re part of the welcome team or a church leader. Welcome people not just showing them a place to park but showing interest in them – asking and answering questions, making sure no-one is left alone in a crowd.
Welcome people into your homes
The early church ate together. It was the natural thing to do. Joining the church was joining the meal table. That doesn’t just mean a few church lunches, it means sharing food and our lives all the time. Living as community every day. Inviting people to eat with you, to stay with you. Ask people to your house for a coffee, for a meal, for a slice of toast to watch sports to celebrate an anniversary to share in your family. And not just your friends. Ask strangers. People you don’t know so well. People who don’t normally get invited anywhere. Older people, single people, awkward people! Ask people to come and stay with you. To experience the fight for the bathroom or the ritual of waking up over cereal. Be hospitable.
Welcome people to our country
That spirit of hospitality extends to our welcome to people seeking refuge. Of course we cannot accommodate everyone and there needs to an equitable process for seeing who is really in need. But inasmuch as we can we want to influence governments to towards hospitality not hostility.
Welcome the strangers.
Isaiah 25 says –
“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine –
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death for ever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.”
Written by Graham Nicholls
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