Because Christian hospitality flows out of the gospel, it is a powerful tool. It strengthens families, communities, and is a strong witness. Hospitality is an instrument for sanctification, unity, and blessing.
The last chapter of Revelation gives us a picture of Heaven, where God welcomes His people into His city. But for that home to open to us, Christ had to come to earth and pay the price of God’s reconciliation with sinners. When He came, “his own did not receive Him.” When Christ arrived on earth, his own people showed him no hospitality. A lack of hospitality is a mark of spiritual blindness. In Scripture, unbelievers refuse hospitality to others, while saints offer hospitality at cost to themselves. When spiritual blindness becomes sight, sinners become hospitable.
Because Christian hospitality flows out of the gospel, it is a powerful tool. It strengthens families, communities, and is a strong witness. Hospitality is an instrument for sanctification, unity, and blessing. But there is another side to the truth. This is a Genesis 3 world: fallen. I have had someone come to the door bleeding from a deep cut, and hospitality looked like first aid. We have had a guest loose it and scream top volume at their child at the dinner table. I have had visiting children tell me that my food is disgusting and that they are bored.
Then there are other things that cannot be dealt with using bleach, a board game, or a peanut butter sandwich. There are guests who are grieving. We have sat in the living room with guests weeping over deep loss. There are guests that will burn you. One friend had a lunch guest steal some silver tea spoons. Others have sacrificially hosted, only to have people reject the relationship. Real hospitality is costly. And the greatest cost is not physical, just like the greatest blessing is not physical. We have had a homeless alcoholic, many liars, and a man who turned out to be a pedophile in our home. And every harmful person we have hosted has been a part of the visible church. That is a sobering thought.
But all of these scenarios are not an excuse to not practice hospitality. There are sensible, wise, precautions that we need to take to protect ourselves, children, and other guests, and we need to take them. But we cannot tell who will end up being the thief or the slanderer. It is probably not the stranger that you think it is. I would never have guessed that the polite dinner guest was a predator. The alcoholic became a lovely Christian man. We cannot tell who needs the strength of Christian hospitality. Our homes are to be safe but open places.