We live in a world that is starved for true authentic hospitality. With so many magazines and TV shows displaying what a perfect home should look like, so many people are unwilling to open their home to others unless they achieve that level of perfection. From pristine living rooms that are unbelievably uncomfortable to picture perfect meals that take hours to prepare, we are so busy trying to impress others that we fail to bless others. God did not call us to perfection, He called us to love. Authentic hospitality is sadly undervalued among our culture today.
We read a story in the New Testament of two sisters. Mary and Martha. Jesus had come and was having supper in their home. Martha was running around making sure her table was perfect and the food was just right, but Mary was sitting at His feet listening. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I seem to contradict myself. One day I talk about planning the perfect tea party and the next I’m telling you to forget planning. Let me clarify. I’m not against a planned out event, a pretty table, or delicious food. I will continue to offer guides and posts on all things lovely when it comes to hosting different events. However, the motivation and heart behind our hospitality must be authentic and must be out of genuine love for others. We cannot get so lost in the planning that we forget the people. Now you’re asking “ok well how do I do that” I’m glad you asked!
- When you have company, especially someone in need of a shoulder to cry on, try your best to limit distractions. Pour a couple of cups of tea, turn off the TV, put your phone down, and listen.
- When you have company show up while you’re cooking or in the middle of a project, invite them to join you. (This mainly applies to unexpected company)
- When you are hosting an event, put your phone down.
- Don’t apologize for the things you don’t have, or the imperfections in what you do have. If a glass of water is all you have to offer, offer it humbly but don’t apologize that you don’t have lemonade to offer.
Authentic hospitality is not just for our friends and family closest to us. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “hospitality” means “love of strangers.” It’s opening your heart to the neighbor next door, the single mom down the street, the broke college student who needs a nutritious meal, the elderly shut-in desperate to see beyond their four walls, or the lonely widow who just needs some company. We read in the Old Testament a story of King David. He desperately wanted to show kindness and hospitality to the family of Saul after his death. So he reached out to a complete stranger, a shut-in relative, and brought him to his home. What a difference we could make if that was our mindset. When we treat people with kindness, we often open the door for them to receive a witness of the gospel.
Some good ways to seek out those people in desperate need of hospitality:
- Ask your church pastor or leaders. I am sure they will have a name for you to reach out to.
- Get to know the neighbors on your street. Maybe consider holding an open house and inviting your neighborhood to stop in for lemonade and ice cream this summer.
- Contact your local university or seminary and ask if you can be a blessing to a struggling student.
- Offer to cook supper for a family with an illness or a new baby.
- Pick up a shut-in and take them for lunch or a picnic in a park.
Our world is starved for true genuine hospitality. Let us be the ones to show them that kindness and let them experience God’s love through our lives.