1 Peter 4:9, "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."
In Outlive Your Life, Max Lucado writes:
"Long before the church had pulpits and baptisteries, she had kitchens and dinner tables. Even a casual reading of the New Testament unveils the house as the primary tool of the church. The primary gathering place of the church was the home. Consider the genius of God's plan. The first generation of Christians was a tinderbox of contrasting cultures and backgrounds. At least fifteen different nationalities heard Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost. Jews stood next to Gentiles. Men worshiped with women. Slaves and masters alike sought after Christ. Can people of such varied backgrounds and cultures get along with each other?
We wonder the same thing today. Can Hispanics live in peace with Anglos? Can Democrats find common ground with Republicans? Can a Christian family carry on a civil friendship with the Muslim couple down the street? Can divergent people get along?
The early church did—without the aid of sanctuaries, church buildings, clergy, or seminaries. They did so through the clearest of messages (the Cross) and the simplest of tools (the home).
Not everyone can serve in a foreign land, lead a relief effort, or volunteer at the downtown soup kitchen. But who can't be hospitable? Do you have a front door? A table? Chairs? Bread and meat for sandwiches? Congratulations! You just qualified to serve in the most ancient of ministries: hospitality.
Something holy happens around a dinner table that will never happen in a sanctuary. In a church auditorium you see the backs of heads. Around the table you see the expressions on faces. In the auditorium one person speaks; around the table everyone has a voice. Church services are on the clock. Around the table there is time to talk.
Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community. It's no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: "You matter to me and to God." You may think you are saying, "Come over for a visit." But what your guest hears is, "I'm worth the effort.""
Who we welcome into our home and how we welcome them says much about the One we have welcomed into our heart and how we've welcomed Him. The word for gratitude (philoxenoi) literally means "stranger love." Hospitality is the type of love God had for us when he welcomed us through the cross to Himself. When we open our doors in hospitality to others we make it possible for them to open their door when Jesus knocks. "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me" (Revelation 3:20). Now that's biblical hospitality. Not a perfect home but an open door and a welcoming heart.
Prayer: Father, God, thank you for welcoming us into fellowship with You. We seek to show the same loving hospitality to others you've shown to us so that when they see they matter to us they can know they matter to You. In Jesus name, amen.
(Arvada Christian Church opens its door with a welcoming heart Wednesday, 11-19, at 6:30 pm, for a free Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. www.arvadachristian.org/thanksgiving)