The Simple Power of Christian Hospitality

Hospitality is popularly associated with hotels, restaurants, and the broader hospitality industry. But God calls all Christians to “show hospitality.”

Our Philips coffee maker broke down a few days ago. It was our first purchase when my wife and I moved to Bangalore in early 2018. Since then we have enjoyed the privilege of welcoming people into our living room with the smell of brewing coffee.

The comfort of freshly brewed coffee has provided the context for many joyful and sorrowful moments for our family and church.

Through this simple, shared experience we have grown to love Jesus and have walked with others through the many seasons of life, deepening our mutual enjoyment of Christ.

Hospitality is popularly associated with hotels, restaurants, and the broader hospitality industry. But God calls all Christians to “show hospitality” (Heb. 13:2).

Christian hospitality takes the ordinary and commits its resources to extraordinary use. It takes our possessions that will one day break down and uses them for the Spirit-enabled enjoyment of Christ.

How can we nurture a biblical vision for hospitality with a focus on showcasing it in our homes?

Understanding “Home”
God wants to dwell with his people. He is not shy in making his home-making desire known to us: “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Lev. 26:11–12).

This is home defined.

God made the world to share a home with us. But the first stewards of home, Adam and Eve, fell into the deception of sin and Satan. As a result, our ancestors were the first to experience spiritual homelessness.

This is home defiled.

But the gospel is good news that God promised to redeem the world even before the creation of the world. In the fullness of time, God’s redemption arrives in Jesus Christ.

In Christian hospitality, our homes are outposts of God’s kingdom

He left his dwelling place with God, made his dwelling among us, and knew what it was like to be homeless (John 1:14, Matt. 8:20).

Today, he stands at the door and knocks. If anyone hears his voice and opens the door, he will come in and eat with that person, and they with him (Rev. 3:20).

This is home redeemed.

The day will come when we will hear “a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God’” (Rev. 21:3).

This is home renewed.

Turning Our Homes Into Outposts of God’s Kingdom
The desires of our hearts are often displayed in how we inhabit and even design our homes. As they say, “Home is where the heart is.”

To riff off the first question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, we may ask, “What is the chief end of your home?” The answer is that we and others glorify God and enjoy him forever.

We live in what theologians call the “already/not yet.” If redemption were a flower, we live between the state of its budding and blooming.

Redemption flowers as we see our hearts transformed by the glory of Christ, even as we continue to see indwelling sin, the pain of the fall, and the woundings of the world.

So we should expect our homes to be places of rejoicing and weeping, celebration and sorrow, joy and tears; places for redemption’s flowering.

Our homes are not kingdoms we build merely for our comfort.

For those who have not yet embraced Christ, our homes can be a safe place for expressing doubts, asking questions, and winsomely sharing the gospel.

In Christian hospitality, our homes are outposts of God’s kingdom—spaces and places where God tugs at our hearts toward his glory.

Fruitful Christian Hospitality at Home
Christian hospitality can happen anywhere, even at a coffee shop or a restaurant. However, loneliness and friendlessness are an epidemic in India. So I am convinced that hospitality at home is most conducive to the human heart.

Hospitality at home helps to slow down and enjoy what God might have planned for our mutual encouragement. These three postures are particularly helpful in showing hospitality effectively.

We are Pilgrims
We belong to Christ. This is our core identity. It fundamentally reshapes our relationship with everything in this world.

Whatever we possess now is in service of Christ (1 Cor. 7:29-31). No earthly residence will satisfy us like Christ’s fully-blossomed redemption.

As the writer of Hebrews says, “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14).

We are pilgrims on a journey to enjoy Jesus more deeply. Our homes are not kingdoms we build merely for our comfort. They are stations of rest and refuge in Christ for weary sojourners.

We Love
Our Saviour left his Father’s presence to inhabit our inhospitable world, with nowhere to rest his head (Matt. 8:20). He left his home so we can receive an eternal home with his Father, whom we now call “Our Father” from the comfort of our homes.

Hospitality calls us to fight. God wrestles our hearts to win us through ordinary words in ordinary homes over ordinary meals.

Christ’s sacrificial love directs our hearts and homes to serve others sacrificially. As pilgrims, we show hospitality when we drink chai with others, have a bible study, read a book together, enjoy a home-cooked meal, or play an intense game of Monopoly Deal.

Each time we do anything like this, we invite others to bask with us in the love of Christ. Hospitality is an invitation to love.

We Fight
Fyodor Dostoevsky, the Russian novelist, once remarked, “The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.”

Dostoevsky captures the apostle Paul’s sentiment, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

To love is to fight for the soul’s final resting place in Christ alone.

If the spiritual battleground is our heart, the place where our hearts can regularly gather together is in our homes. Here, we wage the battle for joy over biryani or chai, with gospel arrows directed at each other’s hearts. In our homes, we spur one another on towards love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).

Hospitality calls us to fight. God wrestles our hearts to win us through ordinary words in ordinary homes over ordinary meals.

For this reason, Rosaria Butterfield has asserted, “Radically ordinary hospitality does not simply flow from the day-to-day interests of the household. You must prepare spiritually. The Bible calls spiritual preparation warfare. Radically ordinary hospitality is indeed spiritual warfare.”

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