The Beginnings of Hospitality

Practicing hospitality is central to the disciple making ministry of Jesus. He was constantly welcoming people into his life or being invited into the homes and lives of others. But what does it mean to follow His example of hospitality? 

When someone says, “practice hospitality”, I imagine that most people think about cleaning the house, cooking a good meal, and having people over. Those things are often elements of hospitality but they are not the starting point. 

Hospitality, as Jesus displayed, was not simply a matter of cleaning the house and cooking a meal.  Those things can be done perfectly and there still not be genuine hospitality.  Why? Because hospitality is about the heart. 

When I think about experiencing Jesus-like hospitality, I immediately think of one of my grandmothers.  I just called her Granny. She lived in a modest home out in the country.  It was literally at the end of a long dirt road.  But there was something special about being with her.  Whenever you entered her presence your guard was let down.  You felt safe to be completely yourself. There was a sense of peace and a deep joy.  There was no pressure to be perfect.  You knew that you were loved.  You could sense that God was there.

My wife was telling me about the first time she met Granny back in 1997.  Shelley said, “I was nervous at first.  But when I walked through the door I immediately felt comfortable and welcomed.  I think she even told me she loved me. It wasn’t about the house.  It was about Granny.”  Granny had the heart of hospitality.  She displayed a heart that made people feel at home, where people could encounter and be changed by Jesus. 

She taught me that hospitality is about the heart not the house.

Jesus gave us a glimpse of his heart of hospitality in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to me…learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart.”  He shows us that the invitation of hospitality is an invitation into a heart that puts people at ease, makes them the most important person, and therefore creating a space where they can grow as a disciple. Christine Pohl says this, “Hospitality is not so much a task as a way of living our lives and of sharing ourselves…Hospitality is not first a duty and responsibility; it is first a response of love and gratitude for God’s welcome to us…hospitality is simply love in action.” 

Hospitality happens as we imitate Jesus, welcoming others into a heart of gentleness and humility.

If you want to grow a Heart of Hospitality try building these habits into your life:

Pray.  Ask God to make you more gentle and humble. He is the only One who can change your heart.

Begin.  Start setting aside a time every month when you will have different people in your home for a meal. 

Listen.  Next time you are spending time with someone, ask them to tell you their story and listen with the sole purpose of learning about them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s