- April 12, 2017
- By Zac Harrel
As Christians, we are called to be hospitable. First Peter 4:9 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Romans 12:13 says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
A way we as the church show the love of God to one another and to our community is by living with gospel-fueled hospitality.
We are commanded to open our lives up to others in order to show them the love of God. In a world that seems more closed toward our neighbors, the church truly can be counter-cultural by opening our homes and our lives up to those around us.
Gospel hospitality is marked by open hearts, open hands and open homes.
To love our neighbor as ourselves, we must open our hearts.
It is easy to believe the worst about someone else. There is no risk in keeping to ourselves and closing off our lives to others. The irony of our connected age is it is easier than ever to stay in our comfortable bubbles of people exactly like us and to ignore those around us.
To love our neighbor, we first must know our neighbor. We first must get out of our homes, lift our gaze up from our phones, and open our lives and our hearts to others.
Reading through the Gospels, I am amazed at the different types of people Jesus has compassion toward. To be who God has called us to be, we must have compassion on those around us, no matter who they are, who they vote for or the state of their lives. We must open our hearts to those around us with all of their hurts and hang-ups.
God has loved us in the midst of all of our brokenness, and living with gospel hospitality means loving our neighbors right where they are, in the midst of their struggles and suffering. We must open our hearts to love our neighbors as God has loved us.
The second aspect of gospel hospitality is to live with open hands.
This means we seek to be generous with all God has given us. God, by his grace, has given us gifts so we might have open hands toward those in need. Sometimes, this means being generous with our time and sharing our lives with others. Sometimes, this means opening our wallets and helping out financially when our neighbor has a need.
What we have is a gift from the hand of God. Therefore, it is not our own, and we can live with an open hand, offering our gifts to others and pointing them to the giver of all that is good.
The third way we live with gospel hospitality is to live with open homes.
The place we practically live out these open hearts and open hands is by opening our homes to our neighbors. Our home is a place where we can actively show the love of God to our neighbor, to our friends.
We tend to see our home as our safe space, as a place of retreat to get away from the world. When we see our home as a fort instead of a place where we can welcome and love others with the love of Jesus, we miss opportunities to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
Open your home to your neighbors. Invite friends and neighbors over for dinner and coffee. The dinner table is a place where community is formed, where barriers can come down. A meal shared together is a perfect opportunity for us to love our neighbor and to be generous with the gifts God has given to us.
The dominant image of breaking bread and fellowshipping with one another in the early church shows us the spiritual power of shared meals. Open your home to live out your open heart and to share your open hand.
Hospitality is a practical way to share the love of Jesus with our neighbor. Open your heart to love your neighbor with the love of Jesus. Open your hand to share with your neighbor the gifts God has given to you. Open your home to your neighbor to share your life and the gospel with them.
Zac Harrel is pastor of First Baptist Church in Gustine, Texas.