I sat across from Mary Ann and felt her tender mother’s heart as she explained to me the reason she reaches out to welcome everyone who comes in the church doors. She has not seen or talked to her son in over 8 years. He left without any reason or communication. She prays earnestly that when the Lord brings him in the door of a church, any Bible teaching church, that there will be someone to reach out to him with the love of Jesus. She wants to be that someone who allows the love of Jesus to flow through her to embrace that son or daughter whom a mother somewhere is praying for just as earnestly.
How often do I set my opinion of a person by just looking at them from the outside and not take the time to look deeper. Maybe they look very “put together” and confident. They might seem like they know exactly where to go and that they are comfortable being at church. But the reality is that everyone has a story, a past that comes with them as they step through the doors.
My heart’s desire is to see each person through the eyes of Jesus. The gospel lived out in my life means that I continually dwell and live in the fact that I was lost and Jesus welcomed me into His family and gave me new life by his death and resurrection. This should permeate everything I do, including how I welcome others.
What would it look like if our church practiced radical hospitality? We first need to understand what hospitality is. We usually think of hospitality as having someone over for dinner, or opening your home to a friend who needs a place to stay. While those are characteristic of showing hospitality, it has an even deeper meaning and comes from a combination of two words: “love” and “stranger.” Hospitality in the passage in 1Peter 4:8-9 is the love of strangers.
How often when we come to church, do we find our friends and just talk with them? Yes, it is good to gather together and encourage one another as we worship together! But I would like to challenge us to take the command to show hospitality in a welcoming way to those we don’t know. Our love and hospitality to people who are not in our own circle of friends is what draws them to Jesus.
Let’s live out the command to show hospitality to those God brings our way. Here are a few ideas to do this.
Pray that God would give you eyes to see who needs to be welcomed and loved.
Intentionally sit in seats in the auditorium on Sunday to engage people that you don’t know. That person may the son or daughter that a mom is desperately praying that someone would love them into the family of God.
Be an informal greeter in the auditorium and in the rest of the church.
If you meet someone new, invite them to dinner or out for coffee.
“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.” 1 Peter 4:8-9