The Practice and Pursuit of Hospitality
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
~ Romans 12:9-13
In Romans 9:13, God instructs us through the words of the apostle Paul to practice hospitality. It is worth noting that Scripture is not tossing out a suggestion here. “Consider practicing hospitality when it is convenient or if you feel you might be particularly gifted in that area.” No. Practice hospitality. Paul’s word choice here is specific. He is not saying “practice” in the sense of “try this out to see if you’re any good at it” but rather “do this over and over and over so often that you get good at it.” Therefore, we are commanded to eagerly pursue, seek, and run after hospitality. Furthermore, Paul indicates from verse nine that the pursuit of hospitality is a fruit of sincere love.
In 1 Peter 4:8-9, Peter, like Paul frames hospitality in the context of a loving command:
8Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
It would stand to reason that the call to pursue hospitality is not merely a call to practice a certain set of actions (thought it is not less than this), but a call to be a certain type of person. You know this type of person immediately when you encounter them. They love sincerely and deeply; they are hospitable with no strings attached. They are the type of person who is willing to undergo personal sacrifice for the glory of God and for the good of His people. In God’s call to practice and pursue hospitality, this is the type of person He is asking us to be.
Hospitality by its nature is inconvenient, and the practice of hospitality requires some level of personal sacrifice. There have been many times when my family and I have been the recipients of others’ hospitality. I remember a specific time earlier this year when some friends invited us to their house for brunch. It was evident that an amount of foresight and preparation had gone into our being there. Their house was clean, a meal had been prepared, and their demeanor and interactions with us were warm and engaging. They broke from their normal routines, bought extra food and invested extra time and effort to invite us into their home, though we had no inherent right to be there. The command to pursue hospitality is a command to be that type of person, willing to sacrifice, not grumbling at the inconvenience or resentful at whatever personal cost has to be made to pursue someone through hospitality.
It is not difficult to see how hospitality is intrinsic to the gospel of Jesus Christ. A great price has been paid by a gracious Host to invite many in to a place we have no inherent right to be. We are here by loving and gracious invitation. If we understand the gospel, hospitality is simply a natural overflow of Jesus’ grace in our life to others’. Only through Him can we be the type of person God calls to be.
During our relocation process, I have been using and thinking about the phrase “our new church home” to refer to our new facility here in Dulles, VA. “Home” has certain implications for most; for me, home is an intersection of duty and delight. There is duty in that my home requires constant maintenance and upkeep, and there is delight in extending the benefits of my home with others – family, friends or otherwise. Particularly in this age of visual learners, the practice of hospitality is a poignant and tangible reminder of God’s gracious hospitality though Christ. Hospitality should be a hallmark of our homes and our church. God grants us the grace to pursue this virtue through Christ, and to steward this well, we must find that sweet spot where duty and delight intersect – obeying the command to practice hospitality, but delighting in it because it glorifies Him as our greatest treasure.
Pray that God would mature and bless our families and our church as we seek to reflect the glory of the gospel of Christ through the practice and pursuit of hospitality.
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Let me also offer a practical & specific next step for you: consider joining our Host Team here at RBC. The Host Team is comprised of volunteers who serve during weekend services in various capacities. This team is an incredibly important part of church life at RBC and is the first point of contact for many guests and our own congregation. We currently desire to raise up over 100 men and women to serve as ushers and parking lot attendants during our Sunday services. You can find more information here: www.restonbible.org/resources/volunteer