The Art of Christian Hospitality
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 12:1-2
The Art of Christian Hospitality
“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.” – Shauna Nicquest
I admit; I often cringe and feel intimidated when I hear the word “hospitality”. God challenges me in this area continually! I have a lot of flesh to conquer and misconceptions to let go of. I also realize I have missed out on a lot of blessings because of focusing on my own silly ideals. Perfectionism can be my downfall.
Do you struggle too?
I have wondered; What does hospitality truly mean?
Years ago, I remember my parents talking fondly of my dad’s parents. Since they were missionaries and pastors to a small Mennonite church, guests and friends would arrive at their home (unannounced at any time of day) to visit. Sometimes complete strangers (friends of friends) were traveling out of state and needed a place to stay for the night. No matter who they were, my grandparents were always ready and would graciously invite them inside and provide them with a snack or home cooked meal. No matter how inconvenient! Often a clean room and warm bed were offered with an invitation to stay the night. Turning anyone away was simply out of the question!
Oh to live like this!
I also have a sweet friend who loves hospitality. She makes authentic and simple servanthood look easy: I tell her it is a gift. Her home, though very beautiful, never takes the spotlight. Guests feel appreciated when they enter and the food she creates, though simple, is nourishing and plenteous (I believe she prays over it. I have secretly wondered how it seems to multiply-ha!). The fellowship and prayer we have there always brings an atmosphere of love and peace. Those who eat at her table come away knowing it was a holy experience. The presence of God is tangibly felt there.
Leaving her home inspires me! I want my serving to be a form of worship around the table like hers, where heart to heart connection happens and fond memories are never forgotten.
Both of these examples humble me. Both are a picture of true hospitality.
Years ago hospitality was a normal and regular part of life, but let’s be honest. Slowly and surely times have changed. It’s common now to refer guests and friends alike to a hotel or restaurant nearby instead of welcoming them into our home when we are unprepared.
I think we are missing out on a blessing.
Hebrews 13:2 has something interesting to say about allowing our homes to be accessible to anyone at anytime. We should always ready ourselves.
“Take care to keep open house: Because in this way some have had Angels as guests, without being conscious about it.”
Hospitality must be really important to God for the Bible to say that. It sounds like it should be a normal part of our lives. I’m asking God to change my heart and my desires.
So. Instead of cringing and being intimidated, I’m trying to choose humility. It’s a breath of fresh air when I see things are not perfect (dirty dishes in the sink, mounds of laundry, little hand prints on the windows) when I enter a home. Maybe allowing others to see my “mess” gives them the freedom to do the same. And if my home doesn’t resemble “House Beautiful”, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about my house anyway!
Will you join me?
In our culture today, have we allowed extravagance, selfish materialism and a perfectionist mindset to crowd out the idea of hospitality? Has it kept us from simply loving and serving others (including angelic beings)? As Believers, can we choose to live an authentic, humble life, and let people who enter our homes see our warts and all instead? These are questions I am asking myself.
Below are simple guidelines on what hospitality should and should NOT be about. This helps shed light on some lies you and I may personally believe which keep us from serving and opening up our home. Maybe it can help us focus on what is truly important!
What Hospitality Should NOT be About:
- Your House: It should never be the focus, only the space where love and sweet fellowship happen.
- Performance: If it’s not what you normally do, don’t do it! Be yourself! If you don’t do it with your kids, don’t do it with guests.
- Perfection: If the house is a little messy, don’t stress. If the burgers are overcooked, it’s totally okay! Funny story: Around two years ago my husband invited a few co-workers of his (from out of state) to come to our home for dinner. I was already nervous, and when I went to turn on the oven, the last working coil gave out which meant the oven was out of commission! We ended up having to “grill” the pizza which delayed everything, but it was fine and tasted a delicious smoked flavor. Ha! We had a hilarious evening and still talk about the wonderful fellowship and time we had together. To this day I’m thankful we didn’t allow pride to ruin our evening.
- A Time to Impress: Don’t let your food or decorating distract you from serving, listening and loving. Don’t try to impress your guests, let your focus be on them, not you.
What Hospitality IS About:
- Simplicity: Hosting is about the experience, not the appearance. Make a simple meal that lets you fully enjoy your guests. You can use your regular dishes or fancy China, whatever you feel suitable for the occasion. Sometimes it’s alright to ask guests to bring a dish!
- Authenticity: Again, be yourself. This liberates others to be themselves too! Don’t hide anything and remove any masks.
- Relationship and Godly Love: Ask for God’s heart to truly be able to love and relate to your guests. 1 Corinthians 13 is a fantastic guide to hospitality. Read it before your guests arrive.
- Celebration: Thank God for divine appointments with your friends and guests. Embrace it when it happens. Food, of course, is always included when we celebrate! Ask God what meal you should make, keeping nutrition and nourishment in mind.
- Prepare Your Kids: Let them know what will take place ahead of time. Hosting can be difficult with children, but if they have an idea of what you expect it will be easier for everyone. Remember to include them in your conversation!
- Prayer: Nothing binds relationships together like prayer. Remember this and bless your guests before they leave.
- The atmosphere of your home cannot be imitated. Make it a place where friends and guests feel welcomed and appreciated for who they are. Let it be a natural place, where relaxed friendships and pleasant conversations can happen.
- Let’s open our minds and hearts to be the change our culture needs! Let’s facilitate a place of authenticity and love in our homes, ministering to tired souls in need of refreshment.
- Pray about who you could invite into your home within the next few weeks.
- Prepare your heart to open your home to any strangers.
- Send out an invitation!
- Purpose in your heart to keep everything simple. Be authentic and celebrate your time together when your guests arrive.
- Remember to allow your kids to be a part of the fun!
Mari Jo had an encounter with the living God in 2000, and was freed from the bondage of legalism. She is passionate about Jesus and his love, and desires for everyone to know He is alive!