Christian Hospitality

Christian Hospitality

By Marilyn Pritchard

I used to think I had the gift of hospitality. I loved cooking and baking and inviting people over for a meal, but only when I thought I could do it perfectly. I would spend hours planning, cleaning, and preparing. I would get frustrated with my husband for not helping enough and crabby with the kids if they came in the kitchen in search of a snack while I was putting the finishing touches on my “perfect meal.” Finally, after another exhausting day ending in what should have been a simple dinner with friends, I had a revelation. This wasn’t hospitality, this was me trying to impress people. I had to take a deep, hard dive into what biblical hospitality looks like. 

When I got out my concordance, I found that hospitality is not a gift; it’s a command. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul urges his fellow believers to “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Rom12:13). Likewise Peter, in his first epistle, calls on believers to “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet 4:9).

And my idea of hospitality was not what these church fathers were asking of their brothers and sisters in Christ. They were asking them to open their homes to strangers — traveling missionaries who were planting churches and carrying letters from the apostles to believers scattered around the Roman empire. This was a time when hotels were not the most pleasant (or safe) places to stay, and these missionaries couldn’t afford them anyway.

Most of the early believers had very little, but they were willing to share what they had. Jesus modeled this generosity when He fed the crowds with what He had on hand, a few loaves and fishes. When the church grew exponentially at Pentecost, many of these new Christians sold their possessions to be able to provide for others’ needs, they “broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2: 46-47).

I’ve learned that hospitality may mean opening my doors to an unexpected visitor when my sink is full of dishes and the dust bunnies are crawling out from under the sofa. It might look like allowing my daughter to invite six friends for Thanksgiving when I was hoping for some quality family time. It might just be welcoming a bunch of teenagers to hang out in my basement and help themselves to whatever I have in the fridge. This is how we can share the blessings God has given us and demonstrate to others how much He loves them.

Whether you are struggling with your own attitudes about hospitality or you just want some encouragement from other women who have learned how to practice Christian hospitality in the midst of a chaotic life, we’re here to help. Just Between Us (JBU) has compiled a group of articles to help you learn that you don’t have to be a perfect hostess to be used by God! 

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