Hospitality: Intentionally Loving the Stranger

Church Family: The Son of Man has come to do what? Seek and save the lost - Yes. To serve and not to be served - Yes. To give His life as a ransom for many - Yes. And Luke adds, "the Son of Man has come eating and drinking" (Luke 7:34). Jesus’ life was filled with having meals and interacting with strangers. He was eating with strangers, prostitutes, tax collectors, pharisees, neighbors and disciples constantly to the point of Him being labeled as a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." Jesus is our perfect example of giving and receiving hospitality showing us that the divine nature of God is one of hospitality. God in the Old Testament is welcoming, feeding, clothing, protecting, befriending and nourishing strangers, sojourners, refugees, widows and orphans. God as the One True hospitable God is the basis for His command to us to be hospitable.

The word in the Bible for hospitality is a very simple and yet powerful word, philoxenia (φιλοξενία; Romans 12:13). This word simply means “love the stranger.” The command is specifically directed towards strangers and not friends and fellow believers. So, in other words, hospitality is not entertaining your church buds over at your house with some of your famous chili and a football game. That is called fellowship which is also a command. Instead, hospitality is intentionally loving those in your life that you are not familiar with. Hospitality is making room for the stranger, welcoming them into your life, nurturing them and meeting their needs for the purpose of them becoming your neighbor and hopefully part of the family of God.

God’s command for you to welcome, nurture and meet the needs of strangers may sound dreadful, but what is the other option? Build walls around your family higher and higher and declare more loudly that your home is a castle with moat and draw bridge and that you are choosing to draw up the bridge on all strangers who may bring danger to your family? That is not what we are called to do. That is not Jesus’ example. Hospitality is spiritual warfare. It is a spiritual battle that drives out darkness and brings in the kindness and care of the gospel.
For Biblical hospitality to be effective it must be rooted in the grace of God. You must remember that at one time you were living in the flesh, separated from Christ, alienated from God's family and strangers to any covenants of promise, you had no hope and you were without God in this world. But because of the hospitality of God and His Son, Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Jesus, being your peace, reconciled you, brought you to God and into His family through His cross. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph. 2:11-22).  

We are to be joyfully hospitable because God is lovingly hospitable to us and one day He will welcome us into His kingdom at the marriage supper of the Lamb as we enter into our eternal home (Rev. 19). That is some good hospitality!

See you Sunday, looking for strangers: Steve

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