A friend of mine said this to me a couple of weeks ago…
“Ok, talk to me about biblical hospitality and opening up my home. We love going out to eat with people, but we just don’t love the stress of getting the house cleaned up just to have people over. Do we have to invite people to our home??”
The short answer is not really. The long answer is…well, just keep reading :)
Biblical hospitality literally means to love strangers. I broaden the definition a bit and say that biblical hospitality means to #lovewellonpurpose. Either way, I don’t see that it has to be done inside the walls of someone’s home. (Hang on until the end to see why I think it should be in your home as well as other places.) For now, back to showing hospitality outside of a home or even a structure!
About 5 years ago as an anniversary present my husband and I bought ourselves kayaks. At the time we lived near Chattanooga, TN and there were beautiful places to kayak literally minutes from our house. Now we live near Tampa, FL and there are still lots of places to kayak - although very few that I’ll go to because I have a healthy respect for Florida’s creepy wildlife. In our time of having these 2 kayaks, I have taken at least 12 different people out kayaking. Many of them for the very first time. Several of them students I’ve discipled or fringe friends. I’ve also loaned out our kayaks numerous times to friends who want to try it out but don’t want to pay for rentals.
What does kayaking have to do with hospitality!? Great question! Kayaking is a passion of mine. I feel most *at home* when I’m out on the water. When I get to bring someone in to that passion and let them experience it, my heart overflows! I don’t care if they never kayak again or go out and buy their own. The joy comes from getting to help someone experience a new thing and having great conversations at the same time. For me, since I’m comfortable kayaking, I am able to put others at ease and get to love on that person through laughter and hanging out! When I take others out kayaking, I am loving well on purpose. I’m being intentional in the way I spend time with them.
Maybe you’re a foodie. Trying new restaurants or local dives is what makes you happy! Perhaps you love a good thrill and enjoy theme parks or outdoor adventures. It could be that you love baking, sewing or general crafting. Whatever your passion is, you can show hospitality through it! Invite fringe friends to your favorite restaurant. Invite a few girlfriends to come over and learn how to make the bread they fawn over every time you make it. Ask if anyone in your small group wants to go in on the great Groupon deal you just found for a nearby high ropes course.
An important aspect of hospitality (vs established friendships) is conversation. For instance, it’s awesome if you’re a movie buff. However, movies don’t really allow for conversation. To remedy this, you could go see an early movie and then do dinner afterwards to talk about the movie and have good conversation.
So yes, you can practice biblical hospitality without ever inviting anyone other than family or super close friends into your home. HOWEVER! Almost every example of hospitality we see being shown throughout scripture involves someone’s home. 1 Timothy 3:2 requires that leaders in the church be hospitable; the NLT says, “He must enjoy having guests in his home.” Jesus went to Zaccheus’ house and Z’s life was forever changed. Martha showed hospitality when she opened her home to Jesus and his disciples.* Acts 2:46 refers to the daily habit of breaking bread in each others homes as the Early Church grew. In Genesis 18 we see Abraham rush to his feet (after having been circumcised as an adult!!!) and invite the 3 men to stay while he fixed food for them in the heat of the day. These are just a few of the examples. While biblical traditions and customs are different than our current culture, the detail of a home being so prevalent in hospitable examples leads me to understand that hospitality within our home is also important.
I realize it’s easier to go out to eat or do an activity. I understand the stress of trying to clean up your home before people come over. Biblical hospitality is not about putting us at ease though. Biblical hospitality is about putting the other person - the neighbor, new friend, mom of your kid’s friend, fringe friend from church - at ease. Oftentimes, the best way to do that is open up your home. Your home may be Pinterest-worthy or look like Hurricane Kiddo just ripped through…either way, it’s OK!!! Our homes say a lot about who we are, and when we intentionally keep people from our home we are, in essence, keeping those people at arm’s length instead of letting them get to know who we are fully.
So sure! Invite people to do things outside of your home. Start there, but don’t stop there. Love people well. Welcome people into your life. The people that will stick around won’t care that their shoes stick a little to your unmopped kitchen floor :)
Where do you most often show hospitality? What’s an obstacle you struggle with when it comes to loving well on purpose?
*More of this in the study I have on my website.