Climbing Dinosaur Ridge, savoring Beau Jo’s Pizza, visiting fun shops in Georgetown (or Idaho Springs and Golden) and hiking the South Valley Ranch represent just a few fun activities we enjoy when guests make summertime visits to Colorado from distant places. Their visit, however, is more than just experiencing the sights and sounds of our State; it is the welcoming of conversation and community.
What does “welcome” look like in your life?
Welcome involves receiving as well as serving. We receive the company of people into our lives and get to serve them by embracing their presence. Greeting others — especially by name — offers welcome and opens the door for relationship. This hospitality takes place throughout each day and in multiple ways: with out of town guests, family members, neighbors, the cashier at the grocery store, the bank teller, co-workers, as well as those at your church. How generously do you offer hospitality to others?
In Romans 12:13, the Apostle Paul instructs the church to share with God’s people in need and to practice hospitality. Sometimes I find myself musing on the word “practice.” Other translations use words like pursue and welcome. Have you ever thought, Hospitality is hard for me, I’m just not very hospitable, I don’t really have time to visit, have a conversation, or open my home? I know I have, which is why the word “practice” catches my attention.
Inspired by the God of the universe, perhaps Paul knew that hospitality doesn’t come easy for most of us. Maybe that is why he actually says, “practice.” Practice means to exercise a skill in order to improve one’s proficiency. It connotes regularly performing a particular method, activity or custom. Even if offering hospitality occurs more easily for you, we are still instructed to practice this activity. If we want to learn to play the piano, cook a good meal, change a tire on the car, perform in theater, grow flowers and vegetables, etc; we need practice it. If we want to grow and learn how to welcome others, we must practice.
So how do we practice hospitality?
I’m learning that the biggest component of welcoming others is to set myself aside and first receive hospitality from God. Paul prays for followers of Christ to experience this welcome extended by God.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Offering generous hospitality has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Jesus. It is an opportunity to extend the love of Christ and reflect Him to others. It doesn’t matter if the house is messy, there isn’t any food in the cabinet, or we’ve just run a quick errand to the store, we can still practice hospitality.
Let’s remember what’s important: cherish people over projects, possessions, and other passions. Allowing people, created in the image of God, to intrude into our lives requires the practice of hospitality: the intrusion represents a welcomed interruption and occasion to invest in and receive from others.
Welcome involves greetings and goodbye, time and space, activity and rest.
This practice of presence generates relationship, community, and connection. The blessings of hospitality unfold in phenomenal ways. We get to share and receive each other’s stories, speak life and truth into unique faith journeys, and experience deeper communion with God as a result of being with one or more fellow sojourners.
Stories of welcome and hospitality reflect the love of God in Scripture. Abraham extended hospitality to strangers in Genesis 18. Mary and Joseph welcomed the disruption of Jesus into their lives (see Luke 2). Lydia created space, food, and rest for Paul and his companions (see Acts 16). Paul urged Philemon to extend hospitality to Onesimus and to prepare a room for him too (see Philemon). After God miraculously released Paul and Silas from their prison cell, the Philippian jailer invited them into his home (see Acts 16). Simon hosted Peter in his home (see Acts 9). When we extend hospitality to others, their needs and desires become our agenda. These exemplary narratives spur us on toward the practice of hospitality.
Jesus paints pictures with His words showing us the way to welcome others. The Good Samaritan models generous engagement by tending to the needs of someone different in every way, except that the hurting man was likewise created in the image of God. The kind father welcomes his wandering son (see Luke 15). In Matthew 25, Jesus portrays Himself as the King who, in the last day, will commend those who have fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, clothed the poor, looked after the sick, and visited the prisoner. Each action demonstrates the practice of hospitality. How do these pictures spoken by Jesus inspire you?
Ponder Jesus’ words to his disciples for a moment:
Anyone who welcomes you welcomes Me, and anyone who welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me.
Read that again :–)
In the practice of being hospitable to others, we welcome the Savior and Creator of the world. We get to welcome God into our lives as we extend hospitality to the people around us. We receive God into your homes, neighborhoods, office spaces, and churches through practicing hospitality.
Who can you welcome into relationship? Do you know of someone needing friendship, support, accountability, or encouragement?
What barriers keep you from inviting others into you home? Do those obstacles really matter in light of eternity?
Do you welcome the intrusion of God into your life? How well does the Holy Spirit reside in the space of your soul?
In what ways can you make room to practice hospitality this week both with God and others?
Set yourself aside and practice hospitality. Enjoy the deeper relationships that follow this way of welcoming God and people into each day.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
Jen Schmidt. Just Open the Door – Bible Study Book: A Study of Biblical Hospitality. Nashville, TN, 2018.
Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door. Ada, MI 2012.