“And he said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, I pray thee, do not depart from thy servant. Come, fetch yourself some water, and wash your feet, and lie down under the tree; and I will bring a morsel of bread; Build up your strength, and then you will pass on; for therefore you have come to your servant. They answered him, Do just as you have said.” – Genesis 18:3-5
Hospitality is a practical way of serving God. When the Bible speaks of hospitality, it almost always relates it to foreigners and strangers—people who are not like us. If I had to propose a biblical definition of hospitality, I would say that it means giving a loving welcome to those outside our normal circles of friendship. It is opening our lives and homes to those who believe differently.
Even when we were living as his enemies, God came and saved us. He opened the door and invited us into his presence. God showed hospitality to us. When we extend hospitality to those around us, we show that we are truly grateful for the divine hospitality we receive.
I wonder if a warm dose of welcoming hospitality will surprise some people and open the door to opportunities to make disciples of Jesus Christ?
Because we are not alone, because we have chosen the company of people who are suffering, engaging in radically ordinary hospitality means that we invest enough time to build strong relationships with both people who think differently than we do, and within the family of God.
You may be thinking that this is all obvious – but we often fail to do so. Start getting to know people, taking an interest in them, and listening to them, rather than just thinking about how to say something memorable or hilarious.
There are moments when I am sitting on the streets of downtown Rio de Janeiro talking to women who are forgotten by society, women who often just want someone to hear their stories. In these encounters, God simply wants our heart and our obedience. Our call is to give ourselves to them in our time, attention, and love. We are there to, without judgment, look in their eyes and show that we are listening.
When we are practicing radical and courageous hospitality, lives are being changed—the lives of the receiver as well as the giver. It is a reciprocal and holistic transformation.
Jesus is inviting us to look at people with eyes of love.
How can we be hospitable today?
“Hospitality is a quality of being a host, which allows the foreigner to enter your home and feel comfortable. It is a gift of the Spirit that makes a person have the characteristics of affection and generosity.”