Christmas is the perfect time to reflect upon the fact that our Lord was received by His creatures in a most inauspicious manner. Despite the lack of hospitality extended upon His birth, He lived His life as hospitality incarnated. He came to turn strangers into friends, to reconcile us to Him, and to extend to us the promise of a wedding feast in heaven--a celebration to last forever. For these reasons, we are called to imitate our hospitable Lord and to use our homes as evangelistic outposts to further His gospel purposes.
This was the essential theme of the message I gave Wednesday night to the ladies of Grace Church (Frisco, TX). It was humbling to speak to a church-planting group, for these women had relocated to this Dallas suburb from many cities--San Diego, Fairfax, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Denver, among others--to start this church.This fact alone commends their innate willingness to live out the concept of hospitality. But I was glad to be used by God to spur them on to love and good deeds. It was a high honor to meet so many women who were willing to upend their lives for the sake of the Gospel. (Many thanks to my sister, Alice, too, who was willing to open her home for the purposes of fellowship and equipping!)
This message was similar to the one I gave at the Sovereign Grace Ministries Small Group Leaders Conference. The outline contains many useful quotes and concludes with a list of ideas I've gleaned from many people over the years for individual and small-group hospitalities. (By the way, nearly every one of these ideas I have used personally or with one of my small groups in the past--just because we're single doesn't mean we can't be hospitable!)
I concluded that message with a quote that I think is worth reposting here:
“Hospitality fleshes out love in a uniquely personal and sacrificial way. Through the ministry of hospitality, we share our most prized possessions. We share our family, home, finances, food, privacy, and time. Indeed, we share our very lives. So, hospitality is always costly. Through the ministry of hospitality, we provide friendship, acceptance, fellowship, refreshment, comfort, and love in one of the richest and deepest ways possible for humans to understand. Unless we open the doors of our homes to one another, the reality of the local church as a close-knit family of loving brothers and sisters is only a theory.”—Alexander Strauch, The Hospitality Commands