10 Things You Should Know about Christian Hospitality

Hospitality is good for the giver because it puts our lives and hearts on display.

Every Christian is called to practice hospitality, but that does not mean that everyone practices it in the same way. We practice hospitality by sharing our resources and our needs, by serving as both host and guest, as Jesus did when he walked this earth. Hospitality works on the same principle as tithing. You are either giving, or you are receiving. You are either building up the body, or you need the body to build you up. All of us have a stake in hospitality because Jesus does.

 

1. Hospitality reflects the gospel.

Faithful Christians are—and have always been—a strange minority in a hostile world. Redeemed by Christ, we have lost our old lives—and with our lives, we have left behind the history, identity, and people who once claimed us. Conversion starts with the sacrifice of what once was, and the gospel provides for what we have relinquished through hospitality. When Peter says to Jesus, “See, we have left everything and followed you,” Jesus responds with this comfort: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold, now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10: 28–30). The gospel comes with a house key, and that key unlocks the “hundredfold” of God’s provision of family and community for others. Hospitality is the ground zero of the Christian life.

2. Hospitality is spiritual warfare.

Hospitality that gathers brothers and sisters alongside unsaved neighbors and strangers isn’t charity or kindness; rather, it takes the gospel upstream of the culture war—where it belongs—and shakes the very gates of heaven for the souls of our neighbors. When we are in each other’s lives daily, we are not operating with ignorance or stereotypes about other people and their “lifestyles.” We don’t have to wonder what our unbelieving neighbor thinks about us, because he is sitting right here, passing the potatoes and telling us exactly what he thinks. At our house, when the meal is finished, the children pass around Bibles and my husband, Kent, begins nightly practice of family devotions, where all are welcome to join. My neighbors know that they can leave, but usually, they don’t.

3. Hospitality makes room for different kinds of hosts and guests.

Every Christian is called to practice hospitality, but that does not mean that everyone practices it in the same way. We practice hospitality by sharing our resources and our needs, by serving as both host and guest, as Jesus did when he walked this earth. Hospitality works on the same principle as tithing. You are either giving, or you are receiving. You are either building up the body, or you need the body to build you up. All of us have a stake in hospitality because Jesus does.

4. Hospitality is the Benedict option on mission.

St. Benedict, the 6th century father of western monasticism whose response to the collapse of Roman civilization helped preserve the Christian faith, has received renewed attention with Rod Dreher’s 2017 publication of The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation. We Butterfields practice almost-daily hospitality, including table fellowship, Bible reading, psalm singing, and prayer. This comes out in the wash as Benedict option on mission. The invitation is wide open, and sometimes we spill into three rooms. Dining nightly with brothers and sisters from the church has developed deep familial bonds. Over the years, we have learned how to help each other without being asked. We are a set-apart people. We love the church, and we extol her virtues, and we call others to come into God’s family.

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