The Greek for “hospitality” (philozenia) combines the words “love” and “stranger.” Hospitality literally is love-strangers. A loved stranger doesn’t stay a stranger for long!
“Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:1–2)
Love your brothers and sisters in your church. But don’t neglect to love strangers as well. Love for fellow Christians is important, essential but there’s a way it may not be all that impressive. Loving those who love you — “Do not even unbelievers do the same?” asks Jesus (Matthew 5:47). Showing love to outsiders – that has the fingerprints of Jesus all over it. And what better way to love someone than to invite them into the heart of our home, for many of us, the moments of eating together. Feed them food. But more: welcome them in, show they have a belonging, that they have a place at your table.
Hospitality – it’s essential to discipleship
Paul’s Romans 12 markers of a life impacted by the gospel climax with hospitality:
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:12–13)
Hospitality – it’s essential to being an elder
An elder “must be . . . hospitable.” (1 Timothy 3:2). An elder, “as God’s steward, must be . . . hospitable.” (Titus 1:8)
A Lavishly Hospitable God
So Christian hospitality makes room for all – inviting in the outsider, welcoming unbelievers into our space, in hopes of bringing Jesus into theirs.
The reason this is no minor biblical theme is because the streams of hospitality flow deeply from God. We love the stranger because we were strangers (enemies?) when God loved us.
“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12).
In Jesus, we find ourselves the enemy who has been loved into friendship; the stranger welcomed. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Welcomed strangers should be quick to learn to welcome other strangers. Our hospitality runs deep as it flows from remembering ourselves to be outsiders who have been dearly loved by a lavishly hospitable God.
Never, ever under-estimate the power of a dodgy lasagna or quick cheese toasty or a carefully crafted 3-course feast in the hands of a lavishly hospitable God.