By Bishop David C. Bryan. The Right Rev’d David C. Bryan serves as Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Carolinas and Assisting Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the South and the Gulf Atlantic Diocese.
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 4:8-11
Opening up Homes and Lives
When I reflect on my life’s journey, it occurs to me that some of my most life shaping influences have involved small clusters of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Usually, these gatherings have taken place because of the hospitality of others. It seems basic, but when people are willing to open up their homes and their lives to others around food, conversation, bible study and the building of relationships, deeply significant things can happen.
I can remember studying in London during college and being invited into the home of a parishioner from All Souls Church, Langham Place for a small group gathering. At the time, this was like a life-line for me as a young Christian. I was battling lots of temptations and pressures from those in my study program and this group gave me encouragement and a safe place to respond to these challenges. I was reminded who I was in Christ. That’s what happens when we share life together in the Body of Christ. What if there was no one who reached out and invited me in? What if there was no hospitality?
The Apostle Peter seems to be saying in the passage above that showing hospitality is a tangible way we can love one another. Hospitality, which entails the welcoming of others into our lives and the places we live, is an act of service (sacrifice is involved) that brings glory to God.
Made For Community
Throughout the New Testament we see a church that truly shared life together. Beginning in Acts 2, we see a people that “day by day, [were] attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes…” (verse 46). They experienced community by living out their faith in very ordinary ways as they invited one another into their lives. Most of the epistles include admonitions to welcome and receive one another, as well as the stranger and foreigner. It seems the Lord uses the ordinary places and patterns of life to accomplish extraordinary things in and through us.
The challenge in our present-day individualistic context is that we tend to live our lives in ‘silos’, where there is little integration of our spiritual life with our social, family and work life. Too many of us don’t know our neighbors, let alone our fellow parishioners. As a consequence, there is an underlying loneliness in our culture.
God has a better way. We see it in biblical hospitality… and it involves both evangelism and discipleship; both those within the Body of Christ and those outside. It involves opening up our homes and hearts to love those God gives us. We don’t have to make it complicated, we just need to be willing to share a meal and conversation with others. Those who are far away from God need it as well as those who are already in Christ. We are all made for community.
Hospitality that Heals
How might the Lord use you and your hospitality to touch someone else’s life? Use your imagination, ask Him in prayer, make yourself and your home available and see the Spirit of God move in ways that amaze and delight.