Hospitality is a means of grace for hosts as well as guests. Hospitality is evangelism and is relationships. David Eshleman said the front door to the church used to be worship but today it is relationships. Modern relationships are being built over social media platforms, Internet dating and various apps on cell phones. The church has a responsibility to create ways to engage people.
In the past, the traditional way to join a church was for people to believe, then they behave, then they belong. With this approach, people usually need two conversions one to Christ and another to the church.
Today, an unbeliever can belong not as a baptized member but in the sense he is accepted and loved by other believers. They understand and love me. The Book of 1 John makes it plain that when we love others, we are showing our love for God. He loves us completely and unconditionally.
Equally, when we love and serve others in the community through hospitality, we are also serving God. FPC shows hospitality in so many ways , through all of its programs, worship and strong missional focus. We have 24 adult small groups meeting regularly throughout the week for Bible study and fellowship. At a recent Good Friday noon service, a young couple approached Todd Jones and thanked him for the hospitality and friendliness they had been shown on their first visit to FPC.
The following is a list of ways congregations and, more specifically, you as a member of a congregation can love any and all who walk through your doors. This list is adapted from the book Now Go Forward by J. Do you allow your busy schedule to take precedence over being hospitable? To dive even deeper into Lydia and her willingness to open her home, check out my thirty day, online Bible study, Women of the Bible. I promise you will love it! First is a hospitality challenge checklist.
On the checklist are five challenges to help you practice Christian Hospitality and get you into a more hospitable mood and to help you practice being hospitable at a moment's notice. This may take you out of your comfort zone but I know you will grow from it. The second item is actually two items but they are on one page to make it easier for you to access. Comment below to let me know when you have downloaded your checklists and started the challenge. Home About Blog Courses Library. We need an expanded practice of hospitality that enables us to live together as neighbours with people who are unlike us.
We must be willing to display the love of God in ongoing relationships with our non-Christian neighbours and acquaintances. Secondly, the choice of guests excluded aliens and foreigners. As noted above, the Old Testament practice of hospitality was a welcoming of unknown persons who did not appear to be very different from the host.
We find that in Judges 19, the travelling Levite is afraid to spend the night in Jebus, because it was not an Israelite city and it might pose a danger. Any reader of the Bible is aware of the numerous conflicts, wars, and barbarism that are described, not only by the nations, the 'others', but also by Israel itself.
All these texts are, thus, a counter-witness to hospitality. The Old Testament message challenges Israel to be a separate and unique people.
Hospitality Definition and Meaning - Bible Dictionary
In the Old Testament context where idolatry was prevalent, the call to separateness is expected. In today's context, however, where many Pentecostal's are being influenced by right-wing fundamentalism, we do not need a call to separation from other religions. Fundamentalism does not engage the Other; rather, it demonises, opposes, and alienates the Other.
We need instead a challenge to engagement and neighbourliness. Engagement, however, does not mean that we compromise our theological stance regarding Christ as the only saviour. The perspective of the Old Testament and contemporary fundamentalist Christianity views foreigners as suspicious and discourages contact with them. These are the very attitudes that a Christian paradigm for hospitality should seek to avoid. Thirdly, ancient hospitality was primarily a patriarchal practice. Normally, it was the men who decided which travellers should receive hospitality.
Women were often either subservient or, even worse, they were abused. Vogels observes that: Abraham gives orders to his servants and to Sarah, whom he treats like a servant, and they have to prepare the meal; she is not even present to the visitors-she is in the kitchen even though the promise certainly concerns her. Fourthly, the practice was limited in its goals.
The customs of hospitality guaranteed that a traveller could obtain food, shelter and protection. These were the basic needs for a traveller in the ancient world. Today, however, we must offer a kind of hospitality and neighbourliness that is dynamic and creative. Hospitality in some parts of the world includes more than the basics. For example, in addition to the universal aspects of hospitality, such as food and drink, African hospitality includes singing and dancing together Gathogo We must be able to respond to a multitude of variable needs that are around us.
People still need food, shelter and protection, but they also need clothing, education, transportation, community and much more.
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Therefore, the Old Testament practice of hospitality can contribute to a paradigm of Christian hospitality, but it is not sufficient alone. The contribution of Old Testament theology to a theology of hospitality. A major hindrance to hospitable relationships is fear of the difference between us and others.
We have neighbours who enjoy different ancestries, speak different languages, observe different customs and practice different religions. These differences create barriers to understanding and the lack of understanding inhibits the forging of relationships. Kristin Johnston Largen As a first move toward a theology of hospitality, therefore, I would suggest that we focus our attention firstly on the similarities of all humans and then secondly on our diversity. Our commonalities can bring us together to a place of mutual sharing - koinonia, if you will - and then our differences can make our relationships interesting, exciting and stimulating.
I would suggest that the Old Testament witnesses to a number of shared human traits that can undergird a broadened contemporary theology of hospitality. All humans bear the image of God. Although humans vary in appearance and in culture, those variations are limited and of all humans it can be said that they are made in the image of God. God's intention for humanity is recorded in his hortatory statement, 'let us make humanity in our image, according to our likeness', and is confirmed in the narrative statement, 'So God created the human in God's own image The connection between hospitality and the imago Dei is an important link that was recognised by Gregory of Nyssa.
Greg Voiles recently examined the place of the practice of hospitality within the Trinitarian theology of Gregory and, according to Voiles The practice of hospitality within a multi-faith context requires a transformation in our thinking about the Other. In fact, we must go deeper than our thinking; we need a transformation of our precognitive disposition, so that we are no longer suspicious of those who are different from us.
Through training and through prayer we can come to see all people as bearers of God's image and therefore worthy of our respect and our hospitality. Thomas Ogletree writes: Regard for strangers in their vulnerability and delight in their novel offerings presuppose that we perceive them as equals, as persons who share our common humanity in its myriad variations. All humans are relational creatures.
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Humanity was created for relationship, social interaction and community. After creating the human, God says, 'It is not good for the human to be alone' Gn 2: Moreover, the relationship fostered by hospitality is reciprocal. Both the giver of hospitality and the receiver of hospitality will benefit from the relationship. The contemporary Christian community, however, must overcome a number of systemic obstacles to hospitality. Western constructs of privacy and individualism, coupled with the domination of everyone's daily agenda by materialistic aspirations, militate against the openness and spontaneity that are required for a lifestyle of hospitality.
Families with children often feel obligated to participate almost daily in some kind of extracurricular activity, sports team, community event, or entertainment. A lifestyle of hospitality would turn the activities mentioned above which can be obstacles to hospitality into opportunities for showing hospitality. Events on the calendar often include social interaction with persons who are in need of hospitality; therefore, a Christian approach to the busy schedule would be to approach it with spontaneity, remaining always open to the possibilities that present themselves for demonstrating hospitality.
All humans are dependent upon each other. Beyond the need for community, humans depend upon one another in multiple ways. The Old Testament takes into account our mutual dependency and requires that the stronger members of the community care for the weaker members. Widows, orphans, resident aliens, the sick, and the poor are particularly needy and vulnerable; therefore, the law provides safeguards for their protection.
The Old Testament law imposes strong penalties for oppressing the weak. Beyond these specific categories of dependent persons, the Old Testament declares that all of humanity is heavily dependent upon each other and upon God.
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Writing from the perspective of the wisdom tradition, Qohelet writes: Two are better than one For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him.
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A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Hospitality highlights the mutual dependency of host and guest. The guest is obviously in a position of need and Reynolds But the host is dependent as well and understands that she or he will someday stand in need of hospitality Kooy In today's world, we are dependent upon thousands of other people for our daily existence. If we should consider the number of persons who are involved in the production and operation of our food, our transportation, our homes, our education, our employment, our health care and our church, the magnitude of the human matrix of dependency becomes staggering.
Unfortunately, we take for granted this complex human dependency, viewing the whole thing impersonally and at a distance, and we continue to imagine ourselves as self-sufficient and independent. Christians recognise ourselves as a constituent of God's larger creation and dependent upon God and upon others for our safety and well-being. Therefore, in obedience to Christ's command to 'do unto others as you would have others do unto you' Mt 7: The normative practice of hospitality, which in addition to providing food and shelter to strangers also includes recognition, community, and the possibility of transcending social difference, requires hosts who are in some way marginal to prevailing social structures and meanings.
Without this marginal dimension, the relation between hosts and guests often serves the more conservative function of reinforcing existing social relations and hierarchies. All humans are travellers hosted by God. If the purpose of hospitality is to 'nourish and protect travellers who find themselves in a hostile environment' Koenig The Old Testament suggests that we are all strangers, travellers in an alien land Ogletree This assertion does not create boundaries; rather, it destroys all boundaries, because all of humanity is gathered together under the theological category of stranger and sojourner.
Therefore, 'the starting point of Christian hospitality lies in the hospitality of God rather than in the good will of a fellow human being' Ahn Gregory of Nyssa proposed that when God created the world, God prepared it as a rich and abundant garden that would serve as a place to host humanity. The first humans were able to enjoy what God had provided for them and were not required to seek for sustenance or communion outside the garden sanctuary. And 'just as God made space in creation for humanity to enjoy the divine and earthly goods, so we make space to host the Other in our midst' Voiles Therefore, in hospitality, 'Genesis is recapitulated' so that new creation arises from chaos Bretherton God's hospitality, however, is more than a model to be imitated.
The Christian moral life is not merely about imitating or imagining differently, but about participation in the life of the triune God. Therefore the Triune life is not merely a model or inspiration, but also the source that enables a Christian moral life. This does not diminish the importance of imagination, but it does qualify faithful Christian imagination as being a participatory imagination or an imaginative participation. Therefore, when we engage in hospitality, we are more than imitators of God or the imaginers of a new way of being, we become participants in God's hospitable life.
In light of God's status as creator, the Old Testament declares that humans are sojourners on the earth Lv By sending down manna from heaven and by bringing water from the rock, God extended his hospitality to Israel as they travelled through the wilderness Ex Whilst encamped at Mount Sinai, the elders of Israel were invited by God to come up to the mountain where they 'beheld God, and they ate and drank' with God Ex The psalmist portrays God as perpetual host when he says to God, 'You prepare a table before me'; and just as Abraham's guest promised to return, the psalmist declares, 'I will return to the house of God forever' Ps God's role as host extends far beyond Israel and God welcomes into his care all of humanity, the animals and even the plants Ps He gives 'drink to every beast of the field' v.
He provides grass for the 'cattle' v. Even after they had settled in the Promised Land, the Israelites regarded themselves theologically as aliens and sojourners. They were to recite the confession, 'My father was a wandering Aramean' Dt In the same vein, the psalmist declared, 'like all my ancestors, I am a sojourner' Ps As the covenanted people of God were themselves aliens, and remain vulnerable sojourners with God, provided for and loved by God Lv All human beings are strangers in one sense or another.
The Lord warned the Israelites that they should continue to view themselves as the Lord's guests saying, 'land is mine; you are sojourners' Lv Even when harvesting their crops, they were to remember that the land belonged to God and they should leave a portion of their crops for gleaning by the poor Bretherton The Israelites, therefore, 'were to view themselves as tenants or stewards, living in the land by God's permission and grace' Pohl God's role as host culminates in the eschaton, when God will gather all of renewed creation to himself.
Although God's eschatological hosting of creation is described most fully in the New Testament, the Old Testament supplies hints and insinuations. Abraham was called to be a blessing to all the 'families of the earth' Gn God's eschatological hospitality is set forth beautifully in Isaiah 25, which reads: And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain. And on this mountain he will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces. The Lord will serve as host for a 'lavish banquet' and the guests will include not only Israel but also 'all peoples'. This rich feast will take place 'in this mount', the place of God's dwelling, that is, God's home.
In addition to the feast that God prepares, God will also 'swallow up the veil that is stretched over all nations', an action that suggests open disclosure and the restoration of face-to-face communion. In other words, strangers will become friends. The swallowing up of 'death' and the wiping away of 'tears' brings to mind the host's obligation to protect the guests from any enemies or threatening powers Pauw Although God's hospitality reaches its fulfilment in the eschaton, that is not to say that Christians should postpone their efforts to bring full and unconditional hospitality into the present.
After all, the Lord's Prayer includes the following petition: One valuable function of eschatology is to alter the present behaviour of believers, who should live in light of the end.