After we develop an attitude of openness toward our immediate families, we can then more readily impart it toward those brothers and sisters in Christ, the household of faith. This marvelous refuge of acceptance and mutual support is graphically described in Ephesians 2:19-22 RSV:
So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
When have we experienced such unity? Our churches are filled with strangers and sojourners. The homes and lives of our congregations are often closed to one another. Efforts at entertaining, with the emphasis on things and pride, often build more gaps than they bridge. How much today’s church needs to be bathed in unselfish, loving, accepting hospitality.
Unless we develop a true spirit of acceptance in our church families, the hospitality we extend to our world will be hypo critical. When our immediate homes and the household of God are what our Lord intended them to be, we will naturally extend an attitude of openness to our neighbors around us. It is appalling how few Christians have entered into the lives of their immediate neighborhoods. These are a nearby inheritance to which our Father desires us to minister. How few of us are trying to find ways to serve our neighbors, to extend mercy. Often our official Christianity—our meetings and commitments—make us less accessible to them rather than more available.
Once the gift of hospitality has been developed in our homes, churches, and neighborhoods, we can begin to participate in a larger and more difficult effort: that of playing roles of significance in our society.
This ministry to society cannot be accomplished without the utter abandonment of ourselves to God. He will fill us with His Spirit and allow us to participate in healing and redemptive works completely unfathomable to us, if we are open to Him.
What a sin it is that many Christians know so little about this broken world. They have isolated themselves from the starvation of nations, turned their backs on battered and abandoned babies. Little do they care that children grow without a gentle touch, that old men haunt park benches dying from loneliness rather than age. This world, to many believers, is one large, silent scream. We refuse to hear the agony—of children too hungry to cry, of mothers with breasts gone dry, without energy to moan, of impoverished peoples numbed with outrage, of Indian youths suicided by despair.
I am moved to pray:
O God, help us to hear, to hear those cries without fear for ourselves, and with compassion for those who mourn. Help us to listen to those in need, without thought for our own material treasures. Help us to seek to be like Christ, upon whom was the Spirit of the Lord.
If Christians, corporately, would begin to practice hospitality, we could play significant roles in redeeming our society. There is no better place to be about the redemption of society than in the Christian servant’s home; and the more we deal with the captive, the blind, the downtrodden, the more we realize that in this inhospitable world, a Christian home is a miracle to be shared.
Thank you for allowing me to share with you. I am continuing to draw a contrast between “entertaining” and “hospitality.” I invite you to join me at this blog for my next blog post.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen Mains serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
Karen has long had an interest in Christian hospitality and is the author of the best-selling book, Open Heart, Open Home.
An award-winning author of several other books, Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. The are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and churches at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.