“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” —Hebrews 13:1-2
When we think of hospitality, some of us think of it as entertaining guests over at our home. But hospitality and entertainment are worlds apart. Why? Because entertainment is rooted in pride and has a focus on self: How do I come across? What will the guests think of my home? Is the place clean and orderly? Is the food good enough? The whole focus has shifted from the people to us; we want to be perfect, and because perfection is impossible, tension arises. Hospitality, however, is a focus on the people. Rather than impressing people, we put an intention to find out what is going on in their hearts and share with them what is on our hearts—including the things of Christ—and then, together, we forge those heart-to-heart connections.
What we would be surprised to know is that people are looking for hospitality, even though they may not even know it. I (Sunder Krishnan) remember one occasion around 1988, there was a well-known evangelistic organization meeting in Toronto and the leader asked me to come and speak to the primary donors. After I spoke, some of the people found out that I was a pastor of a local church and asked if my church had an evening service. I told them there was and they said they would be there. Then, I extended an invitation for them to come to my home after the service for some refreshments and they said they would love to. I said this to two couples, but when they came over, four couples showed up! That evening, I had my wife’s sister, her husband and their four children in our home as well. All the food that we had had to be divided several times over. Although we have a comfortable home, we had old, well-used furniture.
The people over were primary fund donors and come from very wealthy homes. Yet, when they left, they all told me, “Thank you so much. This was the highlight of our whole trip to Toronto.” They sat on squeaky stools, crammed themselves into old sofas and ate much less than they probably would have, but none of that mattered. What mattered were the heart-to-heart relationships and conversations, building friendships and connections.
No one cared about our furniture or what dishes we made. They want connection at a heart level. Through hospitality, we learn about ways in which Jesus has been at work in people’s lives. In recent times, we specifically started praying that it would become a safe environment for some particular individuals in need and God has been answering that prayer.
Will we choose to extend hospitality to others?
Precious Jesus, thank You for the reminder that hospitality is not about impressing people but about heart-to-heart connections, where I can understand others and share about the mighty work You are doing in my life.