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God is Calling His Church to be Hospitable
by Joel Comiskey
I admire hospitable people. I’m referring to those who are always willing to open their homes and sacrifice for others. That’s what I want to be like. Why? Because that’s what God is like. God loves people and is in constant community with the other members of the Trinity. He calls the church His family and promotes love above all other characteristics. In fact, he said that by our love the world would know that we are his disciples.
Hospitality is hard. My wife and I have been leading Life groups for the last 20 years. Most of that time, we’ve not only led the group but hosted it in our home. I think it’s better to have a permanent host, but that has not been our experience. It’s difficult when people leave late and clean-up awaits. It’s hard when thinking about the many tasks on my plate to be hospitable. Yet, my prayer is that the Trinity would make me more like him.
I remember when we first planted the church in Moreno Valley, CA, using our house as the launching pad. I struggled with the constant barrage of people in our home and the resulting messiness. I found it hard to practice hospitality and was on my knees a lot, asking God for patience and grace to deal with certain people. God continually had to remind me that my home and possessions are not my own. They belong to Him, and He wants to use them to bless others.
In today’s society, hospitality is becoming a lost art. People are often possessed by their possessions, insist on their personal time, and open their homes less and less.
In New Testament times, hospitality portrayed the message of God’s love through the new family of God. Because the early church met in homes, hospitality was a natural and necessary practice. It helped to foster family-like ties among believers and provided a setting in which to shape and to reinforce a new identity.
Paul encourages the church in Rome to practice hospitality (Romans 12:13), the writer of Hebrews reminds believers not to neglect hospitality (Hebrews 13:1-3), and Peter challenges the community to offer hospitality ungrudgingly (1 Peter 4:9). Hospitality, in each of these passages, is a concrete expression of love for the household of God and beyond to strangers, just as we see in the Old Testament.
Such hospitality was not only practical, but was seen as actually participating in the gospel ministry. John the apostle says, “You are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. . . . It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth” (3 John 1:5-8).
God is calling us, his church, to open our hearts and homes to others. Let’s be hospitable, like the Trinity.