After examining the “Who” of Hospitality, the next threads in the tapestry of hospitality that we should consider is why hospitality is the calling of all believers. It’s not all about providing housing for Christian workers or giving food to the homeless or meeting strangers in your neighborhood. Hospitality is purposed to reflect the character and work of God.
Hospitality reflects the pursuant nature of God. The first man and woman, Adam and Eve, following their sin in the garden hid from God in the midst of their shame. But God pursued them. He draws men and women to himself. Jesus declared that the very reason He came to earth was to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:1-10) Jesus said in John 6:44 that no one comes to God unless the Father draws him. Rosaria Butterfield comments in her book The Gospel Comes with a Housekey:
We love the miraculous stories of Jesus, His feeding of the five thousand, his divine healing, his contagious grace. And we miss the most obvious things about these stories: that we are meant to replicate them in ordinary, non-miraculous ways (p.100)
Hospitality models God’s love. 1 John 3:16-18 admonishes believers not to withhold compassion:
By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we out to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s good and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.
Hospitality is the duty of all of God’s people because it models God’s love. In the courtroom of his suffering, as Job stood on the witness stand detailing his righteousness, he declared that no stranger had ever spent the night on the street. He recognized that caring for those with needs was a righteous response of someone reflecting the character of his God.
The entire nation of Israel was expected to demonstrate hospitality. The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Ruth, among others, detailed how Israel was to care for the sojourners, the Gentiles, the servants, the strangers who were in their midst. The Psalmist reminds the nation in 41:1 that the one who cares for the poor will be happy, blessed, preserved.
Today’s hospitality tips involves two negative recommendations. Don’t try to sell something to your guests. No candles, leggings, essential oils, vitamins, makeup, Tupperware, children’s books… You get the idea. Nobody wants the bait and switch even if you have fed them.
Secondly, if you are a little hyper about your house, I would recommend that you stop cleaning. Your guests don’t need every baseboard to be dusted or closet to be sorted. A picked-up living room is a good idea, and maybe even some vacuuming, but don’t go overboard. Perfectionism doesn’t augment friendliness. Protracted loneliness is more fatal than dusty bookshelves.