No matter what, make room in your heart to love every believer. And show hospitality to strangers, for they may be angels from God showing up as your guests. Hebrews 13:1-2 TPT
Hospitality has been outlawed for the past year.
How will ministry to strangers, sitting next to a guest in church, and inviting someone to dinner, change in the next year?
In the Greek, the word for hospitality is two words put together, one meaning “love” and the other “strangers.” Loving strangers is the definition of hospitality. In a world of facemasks, six-foot distancing, and no hugs, “loving strangers” has been lost to the virus.
In the pre-COVID church world, hospitality took the form of food before Connect Groups, food after weddings, food after memorial services, along with coffee and food before church. I believe American Christians defined hospitality as “loving anyone who invites you to lunch.”
When my wife and I built our house almost twenty-five years ago, there was a large semi-attached garage in the plans, so we arranged with the builder to put a guesthouse above it. Through the years, dozens of people have stayed with us.
The actual days of people lodging in our guesthouse would total several years.
What have been the blessings and the frustrations of people living with us (many of whom were complete strangers)?
- My children grew up around people speaking Russian, Spanish, and Tagalog as their native languages
- World-class leaders of the church have lived in our guesthouse
- Many great conversations from others of differing perspective have happened on our back porch
- The blessing of helping others in need
As I thought about the above list, I could not think of one frustration. Yes, carpet and laundry appliances were worn out early – but that is not a problem. The score for hospitality:
Endless blessing vs. little to no frustration.
I read a book a few years back entitled, The Gospel Comes With a House Key, with the cover byline of Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World. The author writes in the preface:
Those who live out radically ordinary hospitality see their homes not as theirs at all but as God’s gift to use for the furtherance of his kingdom.
A few weeks ago, a friend called. His son had graduated from college and was married a few days later. His son is entering seminary. Their housing at the seminary isn’t available for a month.
They online rented a low-budget apartment for a month in their new seminary town. Upon arrival, they found another young man asleep on the couch. It was a shared apartment – precipitating the call from the father about our guesthouse.
The couple is staying in our guesthouse, post-COVID. The hospitality of “loving strangers” is getting back to normal!
In the upcoming precipitous “end-times,” I believe the need for hospitality will increase.