Transforming Our Love for Strangers through Hospitality Hebrews 13:2 / Galatians 2:12 / Matthew 25:31-46

Hospitality is a sign of God’s grace and kingdom. We need to share it freely with others. Hospitality to strangers contrasts with fear of others.. ● As children, we’re often warned to stay away from strangers. ● While this warning is good for children, if we do not evolve into a more mature, even biblical, understanding of “strangers,” we will be guilty of limiting our hospitality. We often limit hospitality to those we like and are comfortable with. ● Hospitality, if we practice it, is limited to our little group of people we like. The others can fend for themselves. ● Hospitality is seen as a “gift” that only a few have; others don’t need to practice it. ● Hospitality is very rarely given to those we don't know because of fear, and in worse cases, discrimination. Biblically, hospitality is a sign of God’s grace and kingdom that we need to share with others. ● Hospitality places our emphasis on “the other”--the other, the stranger, the foreigner--and seeks to meet their needs instead of ours. ● In Galatians 2:12, we learn that Peter, a Jew, shared hospitality with some Gentiles (non-Jews). Specifically, he shared table fellowship with them, which in his world was a sign of acceptance. From his Christian vantage, this act also shared with them the grace of God. ● But Peter also withheld grace when he refused hospitality when Jews from James and Jerusalem arrived. Peter was fearful and allowed his fear of others to allow discrimination and he withheld hospitality. ● Hospitality is a sign of God’s grace and kingdom. We need to freely share hospitality with other without discrimination or fear. Practice hospitality by focusing on serving others and being welcoming. ● In the ancient world, hospitality meant several things. For many, it was an attitude and a way of life. Travelers would be welcomed in, their needs met, and provisions would even be given for the next stage of their journey. How can we recover this practice? ○ Have guests (not members only) over for Sunday dinner. ○ Serve a family in your neighborhood. ○ Volunteer somewhere where you can share a welcoming attitude with another. ○ Each of these actions, performed openly and honestly and with love, shares God grace with another. After all, isn't that what it means to be the salt and light of the world? © 2010 Jeremy Hoover / /

Imagine if we became a truly hospitable church.... ● In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus both commends and condemns people by whether they served him or not; the categories generally conform to hospitality. But on specific teaching is that Jesus came to them as a stranger, and the righteous invited him in while the unrighteous didn’t. ● Who knows? The stranger you find yourself entertaining in Jesus’ name just might be our Lord himself.

© 2010 Jeremy Hoover / /

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