Hospitality, Sacrifice, and Isolation

At the heart of living a life of hospitality is understanding that your life isn’t about you. You were made to bless other people. Your home is not just about you.  Your time is not just about you.  Your money is not just about you. Those are tough words!  Those thoughts invade our space.  They make us uncomfortable. They call us to sacrifice and sacrifice is hard.

We have to be reminded that sacrificial living is the way of Jesus. He sacrificed in order  to welcome isolated, marginalized, hurting and lonely people. He sacrificed to be a person of hospitality.

Paul, Silvanus and Timothy understood this during their travels as seen in 1 Thess. 1:5, “You know how we lived among you for your benefit.”  They knew that life was not meant to be focused on “self” but “others.”  If we are going to be people who live a life of hospitality, creating spaces for people to belong and find life, then we need to view our lives through the “among you for your benefit” lens

In general, most of us struggle living that way.  One of the reasons it is so hard is that many luxuries in our lives make it easy to live focused on ourselves and isolated from others. Put another way, it is easier to be comfortable for ourselves than uncomfortable for others

Here is an example. In the mid twentieth century two significant developments occurred that helped drive us toward living more comfortably isolated; the creation of central air conditioning and television. Prior to those developments, families were more likely to be out among people. In the book The Suburban Christian, Albert Hsu wrote, “So not only did air conditioning bring people indoors from their front porches but then television kept them inside and away from their neighbors. The result was increased isolationism.” Now add into that equation the technology advances over the past 50 years. It is easy to be isolated for “our benefit.”

This reveals two basic things.

  1. We have drifted into living more isolated than we probably realize. When we are isolated, we are not living for the benefit of others.
  2. We are surrounded by people who are living more isolated than they realize. They need someone one to live among them for their sake. 

Here is where hospitality comes in.  We have Jesus’ model of bringing people out of isolation and into belonging. Ephesians 2:13 says, “…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ…without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” The cross was a sacrifice that made a way for isolated people to belong to the family of God.  The cross was the ultimate act of hospitality. Hospitality is a way we live among people for their sake. Practicing hospitality can be a weapon against isolationism. 

So how can you begin to sacrifice for the benefit of those you live among? How can you move from isolation to hospitality?  Here are a few thoughts.

  1. Examine your habits. Determine what habits you have that may inadvertently isolate you from others and make efforts to change those habits.  Ie. Move from always hanging out in the backyard where you are hidden, to the front yard where you are seen. 
  2. Talk about hospitality with your family.  Allow the entire family to give input into how you can be more hospitable. Brainstorm together and come up with a list of people you would like to have in your home.
  3. Set a hospitality goal. Increase the number of times you have people in your home by one time per month for a year. 
  4. Go for a walk and pray.  Take regular family walks around your neighborhood and pray for your neighbors.  Ask God to show you ways to practice hospitality in your neighborhood. 

One Comment Add yours

  1. Alfred Turley says:

    Incredible post. Thanks so much. Re-reading it and asking the Lord to help me live this way!


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