September 1, 2020
How would you define hospitality? For many people it has been reduced to splitting the check at a good restaurant. We may go so far as to invite someone over for dinner, but we tend to do so with those who look like us, talk like us, believe like us, and act like us. Many of us put too much pressure on ourselves to give the right impression when people visit, so it involves a great deal of effort to clean up the place and present a really good image of ourselves. But that’s not actually the kind of “hospitality” we see in the Bible.
True hospitality is an expression of other-oriented kingdom living. It’s not about houses and meals, but it focuses its energies on the blessing of honest and sincere relationships. It isn’t concerned with projecting a filtered image of lives devoid of stress and mess. Biblical hospitality quits focusing on our lives and warmly invites others in.
In an article in the September issue of Christianity Today, Jeff Christopherson discusses that and gives us four characteristics that distinguish biblical hospitality from entertainment. (See the whole article for great help!)
Entertainment Impresses. Hospitality Blesses. The first distinction between entertainment and hospitality is one of orientation. It answers the question, “Who is the center of attention?” If I am the center of attention, then my goal is to impress them. I want them to leave full of good thoughts about me. But if the guests are the focus, I want to bless them. I want them to be encouraged and meet the grace of God in their brokenness. Hospitality blesses.
Entertainment Stresses. Hospitality Savors. The second distinction between entertainment and hospitality is one of aspiration: It answers the question, “What is my purpose?” The effort required to impress is major because few of us are really that impressive. So we stress about creating an impression. Hospitality allows me to relax. I can enjoy giving them attention and listening. I savor the moment God has given me to enter the life of another and to bring them hope and help.
Entertainment Babbles. Hospitality Listens.
The third distinction between entertainment and hospitality is one of communion. It answers the question, “How is intimacy growing?” Those who seek to entertain feel the pressure to fill the silence by filling the empty space babbling about themselves, their family, and their experiences. But hospitality focuses on others, listens, and never one-ups. Relational closeness grows and moves from superficial to spiritual health.
Entertainment Excludes. Hospitality Honors.
The final distinction between entertainment and hospitality is one of inclusion. It answers the question, “Who, right now, is in need of Jesus’ love?” If I just want to entertain, it may feel like some people are not worth the effort. They are too different from us. They are too “other” to pursue. I go for people who will simply validate me. Genuine, Jesus-like hospitality looks for those in need of love and honors them (Luke 14:12-14). My home becomes a haven for guests who may not feel comfortable at my church—but who are becoming more open to the messenger and the Message of the church. Those far from God can find the fulfillment of their heart’s longing through the simple power of biblical hospitality.
I am thankful for Mr. Christopherson’s inspiring thoughts. They are right in line with what we are thinking and where we are currently going as a church. I talked about the need for hospitality in Sunday’s message. The ministry of Jesus was almost never in a church building—it was seated in the grass, in people’s homes, in casual settings where people could gather outdoors. We want to imitate Him. The early church in the style of Jesus was not limited to a building—in fact, they didn’t even have buildings yet. The historical record tells us, “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42). We want to imitate them. Truly, if you took the home out of the ministry of Jesus and the early church it would be a one-act play instead of a sweeping drama that changed the world.
We are looking for people who will be an active part of a new and biblical thrust for our ministry—NewPointe@Home. We are in a day of great opportunity, a very favorable time to accomplish powerful, personal ministry. NewPointe@Home is where you gather with other people, in person, to participate in a NewPointe service by connecting with God and others through an engaging experience and conversation. I am asking you to join me and others in sacrificing your current relational and worship preferences for kingdom priorities. For more information, check out my video here.
I am so looking forward to regathering with all of the NewPointe family, but now is a perfect time to consider how impersonal those really large gatherings can be. The expression of our faith is often limited to public spaces which are remote from our daily lives. Yet, the message of the gospel is about how Jesus came “in the flesh” and “dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The gospel is intensely personal. We can’t rightly experience it or pass it on to others without getting personal. There is no place where things are more intensely personal than in the home.
We are looking for biblically hospitable people who will open their homes weekly for a small group to come to their yard, driveway, porch, or room in the house to worship and do life together. Some of those you invite would be people who are new to us, who need what Jesus and His people have to offer. You and your group will work on the four habits each of us definitely need to establish in this unusual time:
- A routine for watching the weekend services
- A routine for meeting with your small group
- Keeping your kids connected
- Praying for NewPointe and our communities
Are you ready to do this? Will you please pray about this and get your heart ready so you can answer the call when we make it?
This is a new and different day. God is working in new and different ways. Let’s join Him!