The facts have been adequately documented. Prisons do not rehabilitate. Insane asylums are overcrowded and under staffed. The aged and the infant are abandoned. The judicial system is overworked. Social workers struggle with the frustrations of bureaucracy, too much paperwork, too-heavy caseloads. Not only are the institutions of society approaching immobilization, but a mad, erratic disorder rises frequently on the private level: children are held hostage at gunpoint, bombs are sent in the mail, parents are murdered by offspring.
This is obviously a world in which human solutions are inadequate.
The answers for the problems are found in Jesus Christ, who at the advent of His ministry announced:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18, 19 RSV).
Christ’s ministry to this impoverished, captive, blinded and oppressed world must, in one way or another, also be ours. Many of us have been given a most remarkable tool through which to minister—the miracle of a Christian home.
I am firmly convinced that if Christians would open their homes and practice hospitality as defined in Scripture, we could significantly alter the fabric of society. We could play a major role in its spiritual, moral and emotional redemption.
For the Christian, hospitality is not an option. It is an injunction. We are commended to hospitality from the example of the patriarch Abraham, who lifted a tent flap and saw three holy visitors coming to him across the burning sands, all the way to the wise counsel of the Apostle Paul.
The Levitical law declares:
And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 23:22 RSV).
The prophets join in the commendation. Isaiah records these remarkable words:
No, the kind of fast I want is that you stop oppressing those who work for you and treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor and destitute. Clothe those who are cold and don’t hide from relatives who need your help. If you do these things, God will shed his own glorious light upon you. He will heal you; your godliness will lead you forward, and goodness will be a shield before you, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then, when you call, the Lord will answer. “Yes, I am here,” he will quickly reply (Isaiah 58:6-9 The Living Bible).
Christ’s words on this subject are recorded in the Gospels:
When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor the maimed, the lame, blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:12-14 RSV).
These passages from scripture all offer important truth to keep in mind as we consider the contrast between “entertaining” and “hospitality.” Please take the opportunity to return to this blog for the next installment.
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.