Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing excerpts like this one from Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real-Life Engagement. We’re excited to read through a few chapters, complete challenges, and experience our first (in)courage book alongside you! Each Tuesday we will share part of a chapter, as well as challenges we will all aim to complete by Friday; and each Thursday at noon (12:00 pm CST), we’ll broadcast a Facebook Live video with the author of that week’s chapter. For more information, click here.
“Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others,
as good managers of the varied grace of God.”
1 Peter 4:9-10
A Grand Blueprint for Hospitality
As I ran to stop the closing metal door, I struggled to maneuver our double stroller through the opening. Bumping on one side, then the other, it finally came to its resting point amidst the packed elevator. Apologizing to the others, my eyes glanced down at our eldest son, giggling from his mini bumper car ride.
A Saturday night out on the town, even if to window shop at the local mall, was worth every chaotic adventure that came with two boys under two and I craved a night out. Three weeks earlier, we said goodbye to family, jobs, our church home, and a lifetime of shared memories as we completed a life-changing move from Wisconsin to North Carolina.
So many emotions ran rampant during this transitional time; exhausted, homesick, and isolated, I knew we had been called to North Carolina, but I still struggled with starting all over. My husband greeted the young family standing next to us and noted the dad’s Steelers shirt. Yes, there’s something about men and their hometown football allegiances because by the time the elevator doors opened three floors later, our guys bonded over exchanged Packers and Steelers stories.
We waved goodbye and went our separate ways, until the next morning.
As we picked up our toddler from his new Sunday school classroom, we saw our elevator acquaintances across the hall. I could not believe it. What were the chances?
In those next moments, their actions marked the way I’d define and live out hospitality for years to come. Without any pre-planning or over thinking, without taking time to worry if their home was clean or if they had a meal ready to go, they extended an invitation to relative strangers.
I’ll never forget when they crossed the hall and asked, “I know it’s last minute and we just met, but would your family like to come over for lunch today?”
Today? Right now? I was stunned; stunned, grateful, and overwhelmed by this simple act of kindness, a symbolic lifeline extended when I most needed it. Our new friend’s home was humble. They lived off a sole public school teacher’s salary, so there were no extras, yet we gathered lunchmeat for sandwiches and made boxed pasta to stretch the meal. That afternoon, their hearts rolled out the red carpet and their giving hospitality welcomed us into community.
Two decades have passed since that meal, and that simple exchange became a remembrance marker of sorts; a tangible demonstration of God’s love to me. In a time when I felt so alone, He knew I craved a reminder of His constant compassion; and through their obedience to extend hospitality, it powerfully reflected God’s character.
As women, our souls ache for an invitation, to be included and welcomed. This coming together in community, whether large or small, is central to how God has designed us and yet this core extension of ourselves has somehow been lost in modern society.
Over and over again, the theme of biblical hospitality is woven throughout the tapestry of Scripture. Beginning in the Old Testament, God tells us to both welcome and love the strangers. Giving of oneself through time, energy, and meager possessions was demonstrated to traveling strangers by feeding and housing them after an exhausting journey.
As we see hospitality unveiled in the New Testament, it’s a distinctive mark of the early Christian church. The home was noted as a place to extend grace to others and they took that challenge seriously. As I searched Scripture and commentaries on this topic, I wanted to throw down a few crumbs for you to follow. The trail it leads us down convicts me anew because anytime Scripture uses such strong verbiage as “command,” it causes me to pay attention.
In Romans 12:13 Paul states, “Pursue hospitality.” It’s not a question. In fact, pursue is a verb which implies continuous action. In pursuing hospitality, we are continually moving toward something and in this pursuit of hospitality, it’s a command, not a choice.
- As you spend time with God today, ask Him to show you what hospitality looks like in your life. Not the version you find online or in someone else’s home, but the kind of warm welcome He wants you to extend to someone who may simply need a friend today. Be the friend you wish you had and swing those doors wide open.
- Gather your family or friends together and challenge everyone to be on the lookout for the first “new” person they meet. Invite them over. Is it a new co-worker? A child’s classmate or the new neighbor down the street? Maybe a new family from church or a few college students? Let them know that there is always room at the table for them.