Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
Hebrews 13:2 NLT
The word “hospitality” is an interesting mix, which brings together two opposites; the word for a stranger or an enemy (Latin: hostis) and the word for host (Latin: hospes). So, hospitality is hosting strangers, even enemies, and a willingness to receive such hosting from a stranger. Our world “hospital” really means a guesthouse, which puts a whole new complexion on the objectives for the NHS!
Hospitality is one of the cornerstones of the Christian gospel. Jesus entertained strangers with a view to them catching sight of the kingdom of God. What they did with that sighting was up to them. Only one of the ten healed lepers felt the need to return and pay a debt of gratitude, and he was a foreigner (Luke 17:11-19). The tax collector Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) was pressed into offering Jesus hospitality, an encounter that turned his life upside down. Hospitality has a habit of reaching beyond the tea and cake!
I grew up in a culture where an Englishman’s home is his castle. My front door marked a territorial boundary where I exercised total control over who entered. In surrendering to God, all my boundaries became subject to redefinition. I cannot accept salvation and then lock it away in my box of special things within the security of my own home. Jesus expands my horizons and with them, all my precious lines of demarcation inherited from parents, school and wider culture.
I am invited to redraw the map of my life along the contours of God’s kingdom. I have to work on my instinctive reaction to people and agree with God that I will develop a hospitable heart and build a hospitable home.
How high is your hospitality quotient? Do you welcome in others, or are you a reluctant host?
Help me this week to be sensitive to the needs of others and to grow in the gift of hospitality.