Hospitality is an obligation for every Christian. Peter says to “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9). One reason why he says to do so without grumbling is because his original audience, and you and I, are tempted to grumble when we show hospitality. But sharing our homes and our lives and our things should feel like a blessing, not a burden.
What exactly do you share when you show hospitality?
The answer to this question is not one I could have easily articulated until I read two sentences from Alexander Strauch. In his book, Leading With Love, he writes, “Hardly anything is more characteristic of Christian love than hospitality. Through the ministry of hospitality we share the things we value most: family, home, financial resources, food, privacy, and time. In other words, we share our lives.”
These two sentences had a profound effect on me and put into words what I always knew cognitively. As it’s been argued before, true Christian hospitality is not just having Christians over into your home, but unbelievers too. Building on Strauch’s work, here is what we share when we practice Christian hospitality:
What You Share When You Show Christian Hospitality
You share your family.
For those who have a family, you share your family when you let others in. Instead of concentrated time that you could be having with family, you give that energy to those to whom you are being hospitable. And no doubt the kids and your spouse often help with serving, often making hospitality a family event.
You share your home.
The most obvious thing you share is your home. For many, especially those in suburban culture, the home is an idol. It’s seen more of as a place of refuge than a place to serve. While it’s okay to have a nice home and get plenty of rest in it, we follow in the place of the early disciples when we gather in homes and invite others in.
You share your financial resources.
“Can I get you something to drink? Want something to eat? Would you like me to turn the AC up?” Drinking and eating is a uniting act. No good host allows others in without asking them if they want something to drink, and this is frequently combined with a meal and even dessert. It takes time, energy, and money to provide a comfortable environment. You share your financial resources when hospitality is practiced.
You share your food.
Some people love to cook. Others don’t. Everyone loves to eat. When you have people over for a meal, you share something that is valuable to you and everyone in your family.
You share your privacy.
If you meet me in real life you’ll likely encounter me as bold and outgoing and easy to talk to. I can talk to anyone, really, and enjoy being around others. But naturally, I get wired alone and treasure my privacy. So this is a big one for me, although it’s gotten less important over the years. Few things make you more vulnerable than having someone into your home, something that opens the door for true Christian love.
You share your time.
We’re called to make the best use of time (Ephesians 5:16), to be productive, to not waste our lives. It can feel as if having people over is not the best use of time because you are not concretely accomplishing tasks, so to speak. But you are using your time wisely, for having people over is a great expression of love, and loving others is never a waste of time.
Showing Christian hospitality is always worth it. It’s not always easy and fun, but it is one of the biggest expressions of love you can show your neighbor. I encourage you to have people into your home and exemplify this kind of Christian love.