Practicing Hospitality

The church was founded upon hospitality to foreigners.

We read in Acts 2 that 3,000 accepted Jesus after listening to the first sermon ever preached to the church by the Apostle Peter.

Who was in attendance, and who accepted Jesus?

Here we are — Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs (Acts 2:9-11, NLT).

That’s 15 to 16 nationalities responding to Peter’s sermon, and many of them stayed afterward for continued teaching from the apostles. Of course, this created a crisis of resources, but the first Christians who lived in Jerusalem solved the problem by practicing hospitality.

The Book of Acts describes their radical generosity …

All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had (Acts 4:32).

This tradition of hospitality was also clearly taught to all Jews in the Old Testament …

When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 19:33-34, ESV).

Paul continued to encourage the practice of hospitality in the Book of Romans.

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality (Romans 12:13, NLT).

And the Apostle Peter says …

Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay (1 Peter 4:9, NLT).

Many legitimate questions arise with the topic of immigration — including border control and a legitimate naturalization process. But the Bible is also clear about hospitality for foreigners and others in need.

I’m a practitioner and not a legislator, and while the nuances of proper immigration policy should be discussed, my wife and I continue to practice hospitality.

When we built our house 25 years ago, we put a guest house above our garage.  

I did a quick estimate before I wrote this blog, and during the past two and half decades, we’ve had people staying in our guesthouse a cumulative “night total” of about six years.

That’s 2190 nights of foreigners, believers, and others in need sharing our home.

Last year, we had a recently immigrated Russian family stay with us for a few months, and right now, we have a Haitian couple living with us.

We’ve experienced difficulties practicing hospitality — higher utility bills, appliance wear, and the inconvenience of interrupted family privacy. And I know my wife will receive a great reward in heaven as she has cleaned the guest house hundreds of times and washed thousands of sheets and towels.

But my wife and I wouldn’t change a thing. The blessings of interacting with godly people and serving those in need far outweigh any difficulty.

With our hospitality, we continue to experience that it is better to give than to receive.

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