Saw this thread of tweets from Phil Whittall, a chap I follow on Twitter. It struck a chord so I’ve reproduced it below, with permission.
Question: Why don’t I think having friends over for a meal and showing biblical hospitality are the same thing?
First, I don’t think these meals are worthless at all. Time with friends, deepening relationship, building community, sharing stories is a deeply human thing. Very worthwhile and important. This is called friendship and investing in it is vital everywhere. I think this is a good thing.
But… (deep breath)
Having people we already know & already like, with whom a relationship (at some level) has already begun is not the same thing as biblical hospitality. This deeper and more uncomfortable version extends to people who are strangers to us. Think of Abraham and his three guests or Lydia inviting Paul and co to stay. It extends to offering protection from the elements, food to the hungry. It seeks the lonely and invites them in.
I’m simply pushing back at the idea that we can consider the hospitality box of Christian virtue ticked when we’ve had some dear friends round for dinner, however good and precious and valuable that might be.
Some examples of how we’ve tried to practice hospitality (we still have so much to learn):
- What do you do when a woman breaks off her sinful relationship with her boyfriend and suddenly has nowhere to live? Come and stay. A few months became four years.
- What do you do when the couple who are unexpectedly pregnant want to get married but have nowhere to live? Come and stay.
- What do you do when a young man in your church loses his job and then his flat? Come and stay.
- What do you do when you meet a sister who is a refugee from the war-torn land of Syria and is living in unsafe accommodation? Come and stay.
We’re very fortunate in having a house which allows us to be generous and not everyone can do it this way, but being willing was the key.
See thesimplepastor.co.uk for more of Phil’s stuff.