Bible Studies for Life

with Beth Bowman

Sunday, August 30

Hospitality: How Ordinary People Can Live On Mission

I can flat make incredible cornbread. The problem is that is just about all that I can cook really well. But, I do love inviting people over to our house. Thankfully, my husband is a great cook but not so good at inviting people or cleaning up, so we make a good team. Eating together and hanging out in our home has been a wonderful way for us to get to know people and understand their journey with God. Jesus encouraged us to “Practice Hospitality” (Romans 12:13). The best definition of hospitality is a love of strangers. This practical practice is an excellent way to show God’s care and love.

In Luke 14, Jesus was invited to Sunday lunch at the home of a prominent Pharisee. I can imagine there were several “prominent Pharisees” who were vying for the attention of Jesus, each of them trying to outdo the other in order to have Jesus of Nazareth over for Sunday dinner.

I don’t think the lunch went exactly like the Pharisee pictured it because Jesus does three things that were unexpected. First of all, he healed one of the Sunday guests of a large growth and the challenged those who were in attendance with the law of healing on the Sabbath. Secondly, he noticed how the guests were competing and picking the choice spots at the table so he reminded them to choose the life of the servant and humility. Lastly, Jesus challenged the group to give hospitality and a meal to people who could not repay the favor-to give with no expectation of return.

Jesus illustrates this last teaching with a parable in Luke 14:16-24. He uses it dually-to teach more on hospitality and to remind his followers the cost of discipleship This parable shows the many excuses we give for not chasing after God and a great illustration on what hospitality really should look like.  The first two excuses are about material possessions-purchasing land and oxen. The fact is that our material possessions do often prevent us from honoring God with all that we are. Possessions take up our time, our energy, our money and our focus. The third excuse has to do with a man who puts his family before the Lord. The best thing we can do for our family? We should love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and strength and live that before them.

The last part of Luke 14:21 tell the servant what to do when the invited would not come, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” In other words, invite those people who NEED a meal, who NEED a relationship, who NEED a friend, who NEED a Christian family to show them the right way to live. Hospitality is just the avenue, the excuse to lead people to salvation found only in Christ. The goal is not a friend, or a meal or comfort but rather allow Christ through our lives in a compelling way.

Walk

When is the last time you practiced hospitality? Do not limit yourself to hospitality only like a meal but rather ask God that He would show you places and spaces in your life that you could show love to a stranger. Don’t make it hard or complicated. Love on a college student by inviting them for coffee and conversation.

Run

Sit down at supper tonight and talk with your family. Brainstorm together names of people and needs. Pick out a person or family that your family can practically meet their physical need and have them in your home. Like next week.

Soar

Know that extra bedroom in your house? Those leftovers you consistently throw out? Pray and ask God to use your family and your house as a safe place for those who are in need. Then, call someone on your church staff and volunteer your resources to meet the need.

Remember to love your world fiercely and madly like Jesus would-using hospitality as a means to truth and light. And, if you need my secret cornbread recipe, shoot me an email and I will be glad to send it to you…but only if you promise to give it away.

Bowman is Minister of Connection, First Church, Brandon, and a speaker for women’s events.