Thursday, January 4, 2007

Guess who's coming to dinner?

When is the last time you had someone to your house for dinner? Coffee? Lunch? To play games? There is a lost art in the church today called "hospitality". People's lives have become so complicated and busy that they simply don't have time for anyone else. Or so it would seem! If we don't have time for other people then we have missed the boat!! We are certainly not following the example Jesus set for us by giving of Himself to and for others. I know we are busy and time is a precious commodity but frankly folks, we're not THAT busy!

Hospitality is a command in Scripture, not a suggestion. It is a requirement of church leaders, did you know that? Your elders/pastors should be regularly hosting people in their homes and ministering to those in need. I think we have let the urgent replace the important in our lives and because of the many demands on each of us daily we can easily use that as an excuse to hide behind. Perhaps it's time to reorganize our priorities. I have found that the best way to get out of the daily rut of life and get my socks blessed off is to make time for other people. When my circumstances are less than desirable, I'm having a bad day, things aren't going quite the way I expected, I look for someone I can minister to. Suddenly, my problems fade away!! Imagine that! I help someone else and I don't have problems anymore. I guarantee it works! Just try it! Next time your having a bad day, got out and help someone else and watch what happens!

When we open our homes for ministry we are adorning the Gospel. It is our avenue for getting the Word to those who otherwise may not hear it. What needs to be understood here is that hospitality is not just for our "friends" but rather for those in need, the lepers, diseased, unlovable, outcasts who cannot repay our hospitality. Okay I hear you out there saying, "who has leprosy today?". Well, it may not be the Biblical form of leprosy that we are familiar with but trust me, there is another from of leprosy called by many other names in our society today. You should be meeting with your friends and hosting church family members but you also are to be hosting those who are needy. Those who could never repay such kindness. That is where the real blessing lies.

We need to get our of our comfort zones and step into the blessing zone of hospitality! Swing open those front doors and watch what God will do! Start by inviting someone you don't know or don't know very well. Perhaps you have a neighbor who lives alone, or one who is going through a tough time. Maybe a co-worker who is asking questions about Christianity or who is even hostile towards it. Maybe that homeless person that you pass everyday on your way to and from somewhere. Don't you think Jesus would have stopped and touched that person? When we invite people into our homes it gives them a glimpse into our lives, who we are, what makes us tick. Perhaps that co-worker who is hostile towards Christianity has only seen examples of unkind behavior or hypocrisy from other so-called Christians. This is the part where you adorn the Gospel instead of blaspheme. Your home is a personal place where you invite people to come and watch you live and serve. It is a place where you can dispel their fears, lift their fallen spirits, wipe their tears, lend an ear, give an encouraging word. Can you think of any reason NOW not to open your home?

There is another reason you should do this. YOU need it! Perhaps you are the newly married couple who needs an older, godly couple in your life to model what a Biblical marriage is. You need to spend time with them! Get them in your home and watch them! Perhaps you are the new Christian who has no clue where to start in this journey. You need a more mature Christian who has been a consistent example of godliness to you and could provide you with the guidance you need. Get them in your home! Maybe you're the shy person who really doesn't know much about how to be hospitable or how to discipline your children or how to clean your house or how to study the Bible. You know people who can teach you all those things so what are you waiting for? Get them in your home! Use their talents and skills for God's glory!

Are you beginning to see the importance of this ministry? You can't afford NOT to do it! God commands it, we need it, it is our scriptural duty, it is a distinctive mark of Christians and Christian communities!

The New Testament shows itself to be a close-knit family of brothers and sisters:
Rom. 16:5& 16, I Cor. 16:1, 20, 2 Cor. 13:12, i Thesss. 5:26, I Pet. 5:14, Gal 2:10, Heb. 13:16, James 2:15.......need I go on?

Here is a quote from Alexander Strauch's book, The Hospitality Command (I highly recommend it!)
"I don't think most Christians today understand how essential hospitality is to fanning the flames of love and strengthening the Christian family. Hospitality fleshes out love in a unique personal and sacrificial way. Through the ministry of hospitality, we share our most prized possessions. We share our family, home, finances, food, privacy, and time. Indeed, we share our very lives. So, hospitality is always costly. Through the ministry of hospitality, we provide friendship, acceptance, fellowship, refreshment, comfort, and love in one of the richest and deepest ways possible for humans to understand. Unless we open the doors of our homes to one another, the reality of the local church as a close-knit family of loving brothers and sisters is only a theory. A cold, unfriendly church contradicts the gospel message."

Matthew 5:14 says "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." Our homes are a launching pad for the Gospel, a lighthouse for those groping in darkness. Turn your lights on!!!

Acts 5:42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.
Jesus preached in homes. We can share the Gospel right at our kitchen tables!

3 John 7,8, Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.
Host a missionary family. Talk about being blessed!! Their stories are awe inspiring!

Open the doors and they will come! If we are too busy then our spiritual priorities are wrong, plain and simple! This week invite someone to your home and savor the sweet blessing you will receive! I would love to hear your stories or comments on how you were blessed by being obedient to this command.

For Christ and His Kingdom,