You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23:5-6
Jesus had a way of befriending those in need, those with enemies (of the flesh and of the spirit), and living a life of intimacy with them as He offered them goodness and mercy. He ate with sinners and thieves and allowed prostitutes and wayward women to show Him adoration. Heck, He befriended us, did He not?
He is, as He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, our constant example and inspiration. It is the calling of every Believer to show hospitality – friendliness, helpfulness, kindness, warmth – to everyone God ushers into our path: the misfit, the discouraged Believer, the wayward, the tired.
Our enemies can follow us anywhere we allow them. The mother of a screaming child in Target might be followed close behind by Inadequacy. The coworker, a bit of a loner, might fellowship at length with Shame from the Past. The neighbor that is less than friendly could possibly have befriended Bitterness. Even the peppy woman you love to see at church every week and involved in every ministry possibly might have a standing commitment to Perfectionism. Even the strongest Christian friend you have can wrestle with Discouragement.
To show hospitality one is not required to serve a four course on a china plate. I mean, it can, but it doesn’t have to. My parents, new to a church for about the twelfth time thanks to a career plagued with moving, was invited to a couple’s house directly after the service. The couple was in the process of moving, so my parents sat on moving boxes as they ate pizza together. Now my mom hosts like nobody’s business. She serves homemade chicken salad (I’m talking homemade mayonnaise) on homemade dinner rolls and never uses paper plates! But this hostess-with-the-mostess’ cup ran over with thankfulness that day as this couple opened their home to her and my dad. The enemies of Chaos and Loneliness were not invited.
That is the act of hospitality, the mark of a Christian.
Hospitality is not merely inviting others into your home. Hospitality is a heart-issue, a willingness to live with arms wide open to the lonely, to the uprooted, the loner, the needy.
Jesus befriended the needy (us) and welcomed us to His table overflowing with goodness and mercy, and it is now our turn to extend that invitation to others through a lifestyle of hospitality. Hospitality is a smile to a stranger when her kids are screaming. Hospitality is starting a conversation with the awkward loner at work. Hospitality is a stretching of the comfort we enjoy and the sharing with those in need.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35
Welcome to April, the month of hospitality!