Hospitable

The quality of hospitality was highly prized in Jesus’ time. People had to depend on the hospitality of a stranger when they needed to travel, as there were no Holiday Inns or Expedia services that made finding accommodations easy. From Abraham, who taught us that sometimes we entertain angels unaware, to the admonition to church leaders in the books of 1 Timothy and Titus, hospitality has been viewed as an attribute of God and thus a practice that all God-followers should embrace.

Do you know somebody who is especially adept at making others feel welcome in their home? Are you that kind of person?

I have a sister-in-law who is gifted this way. She has hosted several of the family bridal and baby showers, and each time she manages to completely anticipate her guests’ every need. It is a pleasure to see how her days of intense preparation come together. Heirloom dishes are beautifully laid out with homemade delicacies, tables are dressed with festive tablecloths and napkins, desserts and drinks are separated to accommodate traffic flow, and comfortable seating is ready to receive weary travelers. She has a heart for her guests that expresses itself in a well-organized and festive celebration. Everyone who walks through her door feels welcomed and loved.

When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

Matthew 10 (The Message)

40 Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me. And anyone who welcomes me also welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Anyone who welcomes a prophet, just because that person is a prophet, will be given the same reward as a prophet. Anyone who welcomes a good person, just because that person is good, will be given the same reward as a good person. 

This passage says it all. Anyone who welcomes another welcomes the Lord. And in so doing, they welcome God. Welcoming others in the name of Jesus is like opening your door to Jesus and inviting him in to “set a spell” with a glass of cold ice tea and a slice of hummingbird cake.

And Jesus takes it one step farther:

42 And anyone who gives one of my most humble followers a cup of cool water, just because that person is my follower, will surely be rewarded.

Here we are instructed to go one step beyond normal hospitality and extend ourselves to people in need. Jesus’ most humble followers need what we can provide: cold water, warm food, dry accommodations, and most importantly, compassion.

The pandemic has forced many people to close their businesses and has rendered a large part of our workforce food-insecure. More and more people are becoming shelter-insecure. And we still have a way to go.

Where is God calling you to extend your hospitality beyond your family and friends and welcome the stranger?

Check with your local food bank and see where the needs are. People in your community need a cup of cold water that demonstrates the love, compassion, and hope of Jesus himself.

And when you serve the least of them, you have served Christ.

OBX’s Beach Food Pantry. Photo via Facebook.

Persecution

There are places in our world where owning a bible, going to church, or proclaiming your faith could result in imprisonment, beatings, or even death. It is hard for people living in free countries to fathom that there are countries where being a Christ-follower is dangerous. North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq rank among the top nations where practicing Christianity is punishable by death. It is estimated that one in eight Christians world-wide lives in a country where practicing their faith is outlawed. (You can read more about this here)

When free people read the following passage in Matthew 10, we think about the rejection and ridicule we might experience for sharing our faith. We don’t think about danger if we are privileged enough to live in a country where such activity is permissible.

But today, I challenge you to read it with the lens of the persecuted church in mind:

Matthew 10 (Common English Bible)

26 “Therefore, don’t be afraid of those people because nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing secret that won’t be brought out into the open. 27 What I say to you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, announce from the rooftops.28 Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already.30 Even the hairs of your head are all counted. 31 Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.

Don’t be afraid. The stark reality that some could could kill the body but have no power over the soul is shocking when set in the context of countries who literally are torturing and executing Christians for their faith. Yet Jesus boldly proclaims three times not to be afraid, because the Father knows your situation down to the very last hair on your head.

Friends, we must pray for the persecuted church.

32 “Therefore, everyone who acknowledges me before people, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me before people, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Do you ever deny or downplay your faith? When you’re at a party or meeting someone for the first time, do you play it cool until you know if your faith will be accepted? Do you change the subject at family gatherings rather than suffer someone’s sarcasm?

Those of us who live in free nations must not hesitate to go and tell the good news of Christ. If ridicule is the worst weapon that might be formed against us, bring it on. We have brothers and sisters all over the world who can’t even possess a bible. Maybe we could open ours and do what it says on their behalf.

Free to Tell By Michelle Robertson