Hospitality is defined as “the friendly, generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers”. In the South, hospitality is a hallmark, an expectation and a legacy. Throughout the Bible, hospitality is a culture, a renewal and, sometimes, a test. We know it when we see it; and we know it when we don’t!
We can safely say that we know what hospitality is. What we can’t always, articulate, though, is why it matters. Here are 3 ways that hospitality makes a difference to those extending it and those receiving it.
- Hospitality reflects God
Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that we are made in the image of God. That means that we are a “copy” of God. Do we have all the attributes and power of God? No. Certainly there are things that He can do that we cannot.
The other side of that, however, is that there is nothing in our nature that is not ALSO present in God. Throughout Scripture we see that God’s people, His angels and Christ himself practiced hospitality with family, friends, neighbors and even enemies. As we become more like Christ, we should welcome opportunities to practice hospitality because it shows others what God is like.
- Hospitality equalizes humanity
Quite often, the word hospitality brings to mind a meal, perhaps the celebration of a special occasion or holiday. Gathering to eat is a picture of our humanity and our need for physical nourishment. No matter what else is different about our lives, all people are equal in their hunger and need for food. Preparing and sharing meals is a constant, tangible reminder of our humanity.
- Hospitality invites community
Recently, I heard a story about a women whose neighbor was not a believer. Even though the women was friendly and tried to reach out to the neighbor, the non-believer was skeptical of the woman’s motives. And, the non-believer had experience with other Christians that made her not trust them! Over time, the two became friends. When asked when she realized they could be friends, the non-believer said, “When she let me in to her dirty house.”
Let that sink in for a moment…the woman didn’t make a delicious meal; she didn’t set a gorgeous table; the flowers were not fresh; there were things out of place and “honey-dos” undone…And none of that mattered! The invitation to come, sit and share a cup of coffee and a conversation was more about authenticity and transparency than it was about a perfect setting or a practiced presentation of the Gospel.
Eventually, that invitation into a dirty house became the foundation of a friendship that led to the non-believer’s acceptance of Christ. We may never know what small act of hospitality means to someone else (Hebrews 13:2) but we can ALWAYS be sure that hospitality matters, maybe even for eternity!
Dawson Women believe that hospitality is important to our lives as women and as Christ-followers! For the last four years, we have intentionally practiced “community & conversation” through numerous TABLE groups throughout the Birmingham area. We are in need of additional TABLE Hostesses to continue the growth of this ministry and would love for you to ask God if He would have you serve in this way. To learn more about TABLE, visit dawsonchurch.org/TABLE or contact Kristen Torres at firstname.lastname@example.org