What is Hospitality?
Hospitality is intentionally making room to give of yourself and receive the other. Throughout history, hospitality has always been an essential Christian practice for the people of God, and virtually every example of hospitality throughout the Biblical Story includes a shared meal. So as we practice hospitality this month, we will be intentionally sharing meals with others.
Why Do We Practice It?
As followers of Jesus, we want our lives to be patterned after the life of Christ. Luke 7:34 says “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” Jesus literally eats his way through the Gospels, but he doesn’t eat alone. What we see in the kingdom ministry of Jesus is that he eats with all kinds of people, and much of the Gospels highlight his meals with people who do not know him or believe in him. Many of his meals are with the marginalized and overlooked in society.
As we practice hospitality around the table, we want to be intentional about who we are feasting with. As a church, we are really good about eating with other Christians and we pursue them with intentionality. But this month, we want to be intentional with the people in our lives who don’t yet know Jesus. As we do this, we get to extend the hospitality of God to people who don’t yet know him.
How Do We Practice It?
Movement 1. Take time for reflective prayer and ask God who is in your life that He wants you to invite for a meal? Who comes to mind? Who in your life does not know Jesus? Who is overlooked in your life? Who is someone different than you ethnically, politically, across the age spectrum, or socio-economic class?
Movement 2. Invite this person to share a meal with you. I know this can be a big step for some people and might even be scary. That’s okay. (It can be a co-worker, neighbor, etc.) Intentionally pray for this person before you eat together, and pray that the Spirit of God works and enables you to know them, open up conversation, and listen well.
Movement 3. Share a meal. The goal of this is not an evangelism strategy, or a means to an end for evangelism. This is not a bait and switch. The goal is to love your neighbor by extending the hospitality of God to them. Good hospitality includes listening, and listening requires asking good questions. The goal of feasting is to truly get to know the other person, to share your life with them, and receive them as they are. It provides an opportunity to learn about their hopes, fears, hurts, and cares. (Below is a list of some helpful questions to ask as you share a meal with someone.)
Movement 4. After you feast with them and learn more about them, begin praying for them with your community. Pray that God intervenes in their lives in whatever is going on. Everyone sins and is sinned against, and life is difficult. Many people we feast with will be experiencing pain. Pray on their behalf to God. Do we expect God to show up and heal, restore, reconcile, and even bring salvation? Spend time praying for them.