Practice Hospitality by William Dupley

Rom 12:13 - Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

When Susan and I were first married, we lived in the married student residence of the University of Toronto. Like most young married people, we lived on student loans, we didn't have very much, and all of our furniture was homemade or used. We made great use of bricks and boards for bookcases. However, one of the things that we cherished was the time we spent with our friends around the coffee table. We would eat whatever we had and have a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and we would laugh and have fellowship. Hospitality was a big part of our lives. Friends would just come by, and we enjoyed their company but it seems that this practice has become less common these days. Although people entertain, it's not quite the same as practicing hospitality. Today's blog will talk about practicing hospitality as a lifestyle.

What is Hospitality

The word hospitality comes from the Greek verb philoxenia. Philo means lover. Xenia means stranger. We are most hospitable when we're reaching out and loving the people we know the least. Hospitality is more than opening your home. Hospitality is about opening your heart to others. It is not entertaining. It is not about having expensive meals. It is about communicating, accepting, loving, and imparting a deep sense of welcoming to others. A cup of cold water offered in love can have a much greater impact on others than the most lavish spread given to impress them.

Hospitality is opening your life to another person who is not just your friend. It includes those who are on the fringe, the ignored, the unloved. Jesus did this all the time. He ate with the tax collectors, spoke to the Samaritans, and cared for the lepers. He welcomed and paid attention to everyone, including the outsiders.

Hospitality is not entertaining. Entertaining is often an elaborate, expensive event. Biblical hospitality focuses on serving, encouraging, and communicating love to others.

Cleansing the lepers

Matthew 10:8 says

" Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give."

I wondered who the lepers were and how we were to cleanse them now that leprosy is, for the most part, irradicated. I asked the Lord who are the lepers that we are to cleanse. This is what I felt He said to me.

The lepers are the rejected, the broken, the unwanted. They are not just the physically ill from leprosy. They are the marginalized, ignored, discarded, discounted, the poor, the immigrants, and the mentally ill. All of these are outside of society, like the lepers.

To cleanse means to heal their physical ailments but also to remove the clothing of the outcast. To heal their hearts, to change their identities, to call them blessed, not rejected. To ensure their feet are on the rock of Christ and not the shifting sand of public opinion. To free them from a false identity and help them know that they are children of God, accepted, wanted, loved and that the Lord has a plan and purpose for them. If you do this, their body, soul, and spirit will be cleansed

I think hospitality is one of the best ways we can achieve this outcome, which the Lord has asked us to accomplish. Hospitality extends friendship to all races, lifestyles, economic situations, and beliefs.

How to practice hospitality

The way Jesus lived is one of our best examples of this. I love watching "The Chosen". The actor who plays Jesus portrays Him in a way that is very human and welcoming. Some of the ways that I see Jesus practicing hospitality are:

·He engages people in conversation. He did not do all the talking.
He did not try to tell them all the things that he had accomplished.
He valued their stories and experiences over his own. We see that when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well.
Hospitality involves service to others. Jesus demonstrated this by washing the feet of his disciples, feeding the hungry, and healing the sick.
He was consistently selfless. He put the needs of others above his own. When He spoke to you, you received His undivided attention. People felt like they were the only person in the world at that moment.
Jesus was not in a hurry. He stopped to talk to blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. He responded with compassion and actively listened to his story. He then asked what he wanted me to do for him. That's the language of hospitality. What can I do for you?
People felt safe around Jesus. When we practice hospitality, we should help people feel at rest. They should feel at peace. They should feel safe. They should feel secure. Often, people feel intimidated or insecure when their hosts put on lavish meals and their homes look like Martha Steward designed it. People are much more comfortable in a house that looks like a house that is lived in because they feel comfortable.

Hospitality is a lifestyle.

The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.

If we consider this in the light of hospitality, think about how you love yourself. When you are thirsty, you get a glass of water or a cup of coffee. If you are hungry, you make a sandwich or eat a cookie. Showing hospitality to others is the same. A peanut butter sandwich and a coffee can be a greater expression of love to someone than the most elaborate meal, and everyone can do this.

Hospitality does require us to learn to serve others. We need to make others feel at ease in our presence, and the best way to do that is to spot their needs before they mention it and lower ourselves in order to build others up. Hospitality does require us to practice humility.

Meals are a great way to demonstrate hospitality because, unlike a church service, where we rarely see people face to face. When you share a meal with someone, you look at them face to face and can listen to them.

Loving the stranger is not just about feeding them. Sometimes, it can mean just talking to them. There is a song that Peter Paul and Mary sang called "Don't Laugh at Me." There's one verse that always sticks with me

I'm the cripple on the corner

You pass me on the street

And I wouldn't be out here beggin'

If I had enough to eat

And don't think I don't notice

That our eyes never meet

Sue and I worked for 20 years in downtown Toronto at a mission, and one of the most important things that we could do was validate a person by simply looking at them in the eyes. This communicated to them self-worth. Many of them were the poorest in the city and had no self-respect. Some were going into prison, some were coming out of prison, and some were just poor. But when you look at people directly in their eyes, you communicate value. You communicate they have worth. You communicate acceptance. This is hospitality as well.

Chronic Loneliness

Global News recently stated," Loneliness has long been a growing issue in Canada, but the COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified the problem with increased social isolation and decreased social support." Chronic debilitating loneliness is also in the midst of God's people as well. It is a cancer that is growing in the church and the world.

It is fascinating that we have more ways to communicate now than we ever have, yet we actually communicate less. True communication is synchronous. When you speak to a person on the phone or face to face, you need to respond immediately and respond to the person's body language and emotions. The majority of communication that occurs today is asynchronous. This includes emails, texts, and social media. It does not facilitate the emotional and body language components of communication. It also does not require immediate response. In many ways, the new methods of communication can increase feelings of loneliness.

Hospitality done face-to-face heals this problem.


How do I start practicing hospitality?

The first step, I believe, is to start caring about your neighborhood. I have a map of my neighborhood on my wall, and when I meet someone, I learn their name, and I write it on the map on the wall. This helps me remember their names, and I often pray for them. This is not a long prayer. I pray like Mister Rogers did. He would speak their names to the Lord when He prayed at night.
Next, invite a neighbor over for coffee and conversation. Be friends with your neighbors. Serve your neighbors, and share your tools. Help them do things around their house. Share your skills with them. Be available. Today, people are so busy they are not available. Change that. Offer to help others.
Go for a walk and stop and talk with your neighbors when they are walking their dogs.
Plan some special events for your neighbors. At Christmas time, we have a Christmas sing-along on our front porch and serve hot chocolate and cookies. It does not have to be complex. Consider your neighborhood as a village and commit yourself to being a catalyst for change by just getting to know your neighbors.
Next, go to your kitchen calendar (or your online calendar!) and decide who you will invite and when you are going to invite them. And then invite them.
Lastly, be ready to say yes if someone else invites you! There are so many things that come up that try to get in the way, but if we are going to love people in the name of Jesus, we must say yes to invitations.

Hospitality is a choice that we can make happen. I bless you to change your community.

Related Resources: How to Hear God's Voice!