It is easy to think that excellence in hospitality equates to a freshly cleaned house donned with the latest in trendy décor, a fragrant candle burning, and gourmet treats. If we set the stage well with a beautiful presentation for an event or Small Group gathering, surely it will be a success—right?
Preparing My House or Preparing My Heart?
Over the years, I recall many instances of rallying my family in the all too familiar last-minute scurry—tidying piles of clutter, lighting candles, brewing coffee, and preparing special treats. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to serve others by offering a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere. However, it is easy for our motives to become less about making our guests welcome and more about presenting our homes and families better than how we really live.
We can expend a needless amount of energy doing so, only to neglect to prepare our minds and hearts for God’s purposes for our gatherings. Biblical hospitality is rooted in our identity as Christians and offers a more strategic opportunity to practice this virtue out of a deep and earnest love for Jesus and others.
Keeping It Simple
Last spring, when we helped launch a new Small Group, our co-leaders wisely suggested that we keep our meetings very simple to avoid distractions and maintain focus. We decided to be diligent about starting and ending on time out of respect for one another’s schedules. To prepare, they typically made a pot of coffee and only an occasional plate of cookies or a simple snack.
It has been a beautiful place of community and fellowship in a lovely home, but without the frills of extra preparations or unnecessary entertainment. We make the most of our time together by encouraging one another, studying the sermon text, sharing burdens, and praying with one another. Focusing less on presentation and more on people has helped foster deep reflection on God’s Word and mutual edification.
I’m reminded of the apostle Peter’s exhortation to a community of Christians who were living as “sojourners and exiles just like us” (1 Peter 2:9-11). In 1 Peter 4:8-11 we are encouraged to do three things that relate to hospitality:
1. “Keep Loving One Another Earnestly, Since Love Covers a Multitude of Sins.”
Love is the motivation for making our homes inviting and for our Small Group time together. I often ask God to give me the ability to love deeply and well before we gather.
2. “Show Hospitality to One Another Without Grumbling.”
Genuine hospitality can be a source of joy and satisfaction. We can trust God for the energy to bless others in this way out of the overflow of his grace in our lives. Even when I don’t feel like attending or hosting, I am always blessed after participating in Small Group.
3. “In Order That in Everything God May Be Glorified Through Jesus Christ.”
Ultimately, strategic hospitality is an act of worship that gives a platform for the gospel to an unbelieving world where we are indeed sojourners and exiles. A couple of times at our co-leaders’ home, we’ve discussed the Scriptures on the back patio and I often wonder who may have been listening. Perhaps they will come join us.
May we be a people who invite others into our homes and lives. By doing so we can light candles, brew coffee, and love deeply for the glory of God.