by: Matt Alexander
I was born in the hospitality state, I’m a Southern Baptist pastor’s wife, and I can whip up a magazine worthy casserole in minutes. Hospitality is my spiritual gift.
As a child I remember dreaming of perfectly placed coffee tables, dining room centerpieces, and kitchen floor plans. I spent many years thinking the “Great Wall of China” was in the wedding section of every department store! Registering from that great wall was easy - I’d known exactly what I wanted for years, and I was so eager to get married so I could finally practice hospitality. Romans 12:13 was read at our wedding,
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality”
and you better believe I had serving fancy food on that fine china in mind. All 25 place settings of it.
I was eager to show hospitality the way I’d always perceived it - with a focus on my home more than my heart.
The word Scripture uses for hospitality is translated to mean “love to strangers.” And strangers means, strangers. A person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar. I was quick to call myself hospitable but I’m afraid a close examination would prove that I was simply really good at loving people who are like me. And there is so much good in that. However, the severity of the poverty levels in our zip codes and the homelessness of the strangers right around us prove one thing - we’re not doing hospitality the way Jesus did.
As I began to search, I found: the outline for the ministry of hospitality is found through Scripture loving, not Southern Living. If we’re selective of the love we show, our “hospitality” does nothing more than reveal the haughtiness of our hearts. The aim of hospitality shouldn’t be to show how kind our churches, civic clubs, communities or families are. The aim of our hospitality should be to show how kind Jesus is.
The New Testament is full of commands to the church to practice hospitality but perhaps the most striking is when Jesus paints a picture of Heaven and shows how our earthly hospitality matters in eternity.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these of my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:34-35
We serve them, because He has so richly served us.
There will be a day when the King of all welcomes us to His heavenly table prepared for us. How we live before we get there determines who could be sitting beside us. Let us allow the hospitality He’s shown us be the foundation for the hospitality we show to strangers around us. Let us share His love with them at our tables, and pray that one day we’ll share His joy with them at His table.
- Virginia www.virginialittlealexander.com