I love to throw a party. Give me a reason and I’ll make it happen. A birthday – in. A baby shower – in. It’s Tuesday – in. Bring on the fun foods, the décor, the drinks, and the laughs. I’ll toss together a soup or a charcuterie board or a veggie tray. You bring something. I’ll probably have a new recipe I want to try anyways, so now’s my chance!
Rosaria Butterfield, in her book The Gospel Comes with a House Key, coins the term: “radically ordinary hospitality”. She goes on to say, “Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the gospel in word and deed… the purpose of radically ordinary hospitality is to build, focus, deepen, and strengthen the family of God, pointing others to the Bible-believing church, and being earthly and spiritually good to everyone we know.” It is ordinary because we are all just people. And it is radical because of Jesus.
Hospitality isn’t throwing an elaborate party. It is inviting a friend or a neighbor over for a taco night because you have extra.
It isn’t pulling out the China or even the good dishes. Its opening ears to listen and mouths to share.
It isn’t brow beating Christianese around a table. It is getting to know someone’s story without any strings attached and believing that Holy Spirit will work in their hearts… and yours.
Paul says in Romans 12:13, “Seek to show hospitality.” The original Greek word that the ESV translates “seek” is the word diokontes which means “pursue; aggressively chase, like a hunter pursuing a prize; earnestly pursue”. Doesn’t that give you a new mindset? The word he uses for “hospitality” is made up of the words philos (friend) and xenos (stranger) and means “love of strangers”. Are you blown away yet?
Chase hard after the stranger to show incredible warmth to them, so that they experience the loving kindness of Jesus.
When a Spirit-filled, Bible believing Christian walks into any room, the atmosphere changes. And I believe any place I put my foot, God wants to win and redeem for the Kingdom. Showing hospitality is pursuing the people who are around you, either the people you do not yet know (stranger) or the people who do not know God (stranger), tossing extra burgers on the grill, and believing that God will redeem the places that need redeeming.
Gospel-centered hospitality also has intention behind it. It is strategic hospitality (John Piper’s term). And it doesn’t happen by chance. We are called to look for the downtrodden and invite them in (both active verbs). We are called to pursue (again, an active verb) the stranger and have them over. We are impassioned to create a safe space where people from all walks of life feel safe to share and to wrestle and to grow. It’s a long play. It’s a deep play. And it’s intentional.
May we be people who look up and see the people around us: our neighbors, our coworkers, our kids’ teammates, the lady across the street, the man at the end of the cul-de-sac. May we be people who chase hard after the stranger, invite them into our homes, and in turn, help them meet the best host ever: Jesus Christ himself.