“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:9-13).
The second greatest commandment sums up half of the Ten Commandments. Jesus said we must love our neighbors as ourselves. God knows we are pretty good about caring for our own needs. Yet, we have amnesia when it comes to loving our neighbors. So God reminds us that out of his abundant grace, we must love our neighbors as God first loved us. Many commands of Scripture fill out how we are to love our neighbors. One of them is hospitality. Unlike the spiritual gift tests of the 80s’ and 90s’, hospitality is actually a command. It is neither a suggestion nor a personal preference for the mighty. All of God’s people are commanded to practice hospitality. This means we all have work to do. There are no onlookers when it comes to genuine Christianity. If Christ orders, we must follow.
The command of hospitality has been a church-wide discussion among us for the better part of the summer. We continue to dedicate ourselves to this topic during our Sunday School hour. What is hospitality and what is it’s counterfeit? How much did my youth shape my views of strangers? We are wading through these and many more questions as we read, “The Gospel Comes with a House Key” by Rosaria Butterfield. In it she states, “We trust God’s power more than we trust our limitations, and we know that he never gives a command without giving the grace to perform it. But we know that the struggle is insurmountable alone…Radically ordinary hospitality is accompanied suffering.” (p. 13).
Without the cross of Christ our labors are in vain, but because of the cross of Christ, we have genuine community with one another. Hospitality is a mark of true gospel understanding. As we love strangers we demonstrate that we who were once strangers are now not our own, but we have been bought with a price. Let us anticipate our Lord’s Day together, preparing our hearts by prayers that God may help us understand and practice hospitality a little bit better that we have in the past. All for his glory alone.vvvv