Practicing Christian Hospitality
PRACTICING CHRISTIAN HOSPITALITY.
Practicing hospitality is easier said than done as we all know; it could a daunting task for anyone even a christian lady. The thoughtfulness, the care and the chores involved could be quite overwhelming a times, but for how long are we going to avoid this all encompassing act of goodness?
While I was in school, due to accommodation difficulties, a fellow sister whom I recently met had to stay with me in my bed space. Although I agreed, but there were times I wasn’t as nice as I was supposed to be, I got irritated at some things I should have overlooked (even though I never said anything to her), but a time came that she left to stay with another friend for a while, after she left my heart struck me and I was totally ashamed of myself, I saw myself in a new light; alas “I am selfish” What message am I preaching if I couldn’t even share my space and an occasional meal? The session was almost over when she came back from her friend’s; I tried to make amends, but time wasn’t on my side anymore. She said good things about me after we parted ways, but I know I could have done better.
Hospitality can simply be put as the expression of love, welcome and care towards another; Christian hospitality is simply doing this in the name of Christ without expecting anything in return. It is opening up our homes and lives to others, sharing our resources as gifts, giving a listening hear to that burdened heart and a place of acceptance to the dejected.
Practicing Christian hospitality isn’t always easy, it takes effort, time, money, energy, and most times cooking and washing of dishes after the departure of visitors. I’m sure the obvious question on your mind is, is it worth it all? Can’t I just stay on my own, keep my house clean and my sink tidy? I don’t even like to talk or cook, I just want to maintain my own lane, greet neighbors and say hi after church service and probably give a piece of bread to that homeless man near my house, good enough right?
it isn’t good enough. At least, according to the bible, it isn’t. The bible
expressly commands it in 1peter4:9, charging us to cheerfully share our home
with others without grumbling or complaining. Aside the blessing of obeying
God’s commandment, there are other benefits associated with showing Christian
hospitality that should encourage us to put aside the excuses, put on a smile
instead and welcome visitors into our homes.
BENEFITS OF PRACTICING HOSPITALITY
- Your hospitality and opening of your homes to different strangers, family and friends could be the beginning of forging wonderful bonds and friendship that otherwise would never exist. It is true that some bonds can be easily formed while sharing a bottle of cola and a pie outside your home than while holding hands and praying in the church. Some happily married couples have met for the first time while sharing a meal on the same table with an host family, developed a friendship and then feelings that went beyond that dining table to the alter to say “I do.”
- It is an avenue to prepare the otherwise hardened heart for the penetration of the word of God. Christianity isn’t just about church fellowship but a relationship with one another’s that is not defined by the pew arrangement. Your warm smile and embrace could go a longer way in communicating the love of God to that unbeliever than your numerous handbill invitations to a church programme. An harmless invitation into your home to dine and mingle and laugh followed with a quick prayer may have greater effects on that unsteady member of the church than the numerous phone calls after missing a church service.
- Hospitality puts out your innermost traits and qualities, so you could make proper amends and so we can go deeper in brokenness. It shows you just how humble you are when you find it very hard to clean up after the guests, and realize you’re complaining and holding grudges because the guests didn’t offer to do the dishes after the dinner. It tests your generosity; do you put the best of the food stored away for your family consumption and then offer the inferior things to the guest? Hospitality puts your heart in an open display.
- Hospitality teaches our children the priceless lessons of love which is shown in sacrifice. When your children see you flying all over the place with a smile, trying to get everything ready for the guests and see your genuine smile of gratitude and contentment after the last guest have left; they might not have paid attention in Sunday school when their teacher was teaching them about Jesus washing the disciples’’ feet, but looking at you and also participating in the tasks, they would have learnt valuable lessons about joyfully serving others without expecting anything in return; cheerfulness in an otherwise tired state; generosity regardless of quantity; comportment under pressure along with multitasking skills.
Christian hospitality goes beyond the societal stratification that is subconsciously becoming the norm, even among believers. In a society categorized by class, religion, ethnicity, and cultural differences, who should we show hospitality to as Christians?
- Toward the church;
We’ve severally heard about doing good to all men, especially those that are of the body of Christ, but we find ourselves shying away from hosting church members in our homes. This wasn’t the case in the early church; as we saw Jesus Christ with the disciples going to the house of Peter after services, where they were fed and they relaxed their tired bodies.
Not everyone in the church has it all together; so many come to the church with a facade that covers their pain and confusions; shaking their hands alone after service won’t cure their loneliness. Some just needs to feel loved; some needs your motherly counsel and advice, some even needs clarity about a perplexing thing in the bible. Some people may feel too insignificant to walk up to the pastor for explanation. But they can get this in the warmth of your home. Seek out the friendless in the church; host that new couple that just moved to town; your older child can babysit in your house for that tired mum while you take her out for a spa treatment. Besides, who says you can’t host your local pastor who labors over you relentlessly? The opportunity to show hospitality in the church is always there, it just warrants a little thoughtfulness and you will find someone that need the little you have to offer.
- Toward family;
Leaving and cleaving does not mean estrangement from one’s family. This “I and my husband” philosophy is not for the Christian wife please. Your home should be a haven for family members, where they can run to in time of desperation. Being hostile to your sister-in-law and brother in-law will definitely not score you an extra point with your mother in-law (If you get what I mean). While I know some family members can take it to the extreme and take your kindness for granted; which is why the need to set boundaries in families can never be overemphasized, all I’m saying is that don’t let this boundary make you and your husband inaccessible to family members.
Your home could be a place where you brother in-law comes and he decides he’s going to marry a Christian lady come what may, regardless of several temptations to do otherwise. it could cause your sister in-law to pray more for a godly and Christian home like yours. And it will make your mother in-law bless you for not turning her away. Besides, these in-laws won’t come forever, your parent in-laws will go home to be with GOD, other siblings will get married and have their own marriage to face, as my mother will say, “nothing lasts forever”. Make that impact now that you still can through your hospitable acts. Refuse to be that grumpy and grouchy wife who doesn’t want to see family around at their house. Let’s face it, where is your Christian love and virtue if you can’t even welcome your own parents into your house once in a while?
- Toward the stranger;
You don’t have to know someone closely before you entertain them. As much as we ought to be careful about bringing strangers into our homes for security purpose, that shouldn’t stop us from being hospitable. How about taking that new employee that is always sitting alone at her desk during lunch hour with you for a quick bite? Get to know her over lunch and show the love of Christ not necessarily because you want to invite her to your church service. What about inviting new neighbor for a cookout?
There are several means of being hospitable to strangers even though we are uncomfortable bringing them over to our house (which is reasonable judging from the perverseness going on about in the world). Knowing what I know now, I wish I had been more kind toward strangers.
- Toward the needy;
When Mary broke the alabaster box of ointment for Jesus and a disciple thought it was a waste that could have been otherwise used for the needy; the Lord answered that the needy are always amidst us but he won’t be physically here forever. So, what are you doing to help that poor subordinate at your office, who has a number of children with no means of feeding them? How about inviting her whole family (if you can afford it) for lunch on a weekend and let them leave with a full stomach, a smile and enough food (probably leftover from lunch) to take care of dinner and probably breakfast the next day.
I remember during my undergraduate programme, there were a lot of us in the student fellowship that were struggling financially and were far away from home. There was this woman in the church who would invite us over to her house, leave the kitchen to us to prepare whatever we want to eat to our satisfaction. She did this with no ulterior motive to probably get us to do any house chores for her, in fact if you volunteered, she wouldn’t accept. She had no money to give us, but we all knew that if we go to her house anytime, we will be well fed. She practiced christian hospitality the best way she could.
Jesus said in Matthew 25:34-36, I was hungry and you fed me, naked and you cloth me, a stranger and you took me in; whenever you do these to the least of you, you have done it to me. When you sent that homeless boy away like a criminal even though you had edible leftover to give him, you did it to the lord. When you intentionally left the house so that the needy woman coming to visit you won’t meet you at home, you did it to the lord; You’ve neglected the teaching of the Lord on Christian hospitality. And when you welcome the poorest person in your congregation like a king into your home and shared your best and sumptuous meal with him using the best of your dishes, you have certainly done it unto the Lord JESUS. PRACTICING CHRISTIAN HOSPITALITY isn’t always easy, but it is worth it.