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Hospitality doesn’t need to break the bank—or your back!

 
Carolyn Lacey | April 13th 2021

I love a good period drama. It’s fun to escape for a while into the world of fine houses, frilly dresses and fancy tea parties. But I sometimes find myself envying the mistress of the house as she hosts her impressive feasts without so much as breaking a sweat. How does she do it, I ask? The answer is obvious: she has loads of money and plenty of people to do all the hard work for her. I tell myself, I’d be great at hospitality, too, in her shoes!

The Bible calls all followers of Jesus to “practise hospitality”—and to do it “without grumbling” (Romans 12 v 13; 1 Peter 4 v 9). But it doesn’t link hospitality with expense, exhaustion—or even an extroverted personality. Rather, it reveals a God who overflows with generous, compassionate welcome to undeserving people. It invites us to accept his welcome—and then share it with others.

Extraordinary Hospitality (for Ordinary People)

Extraordinary Hospitality (for Ordinary People)

$14.99 $12.74

How to offer Christian hospitality without becoming exhausted and overburdened.

One of my favourite pictures of God’s welcome is found in Isaiah 55:

“Come, all you who are thirsty,

    come to the waters;

and you who have no money,

    come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

    without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,

    and your labour on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,

    and you will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55 v 1-2)

"The purpose of our hospitality is not to show off our homes or our cooking skills but our Saviour. We want to call our friends and neighbours to the only feast that is truly satisfying and life-giving."

God isn’t a reluctant host—he isn’t motivated by duty or obligation. No, he is joyful and enthusiastic in his welcome. And, unlike so many hosts, he expects nothing in return. He offers a free invitation to all—no one is excluded, because there is enough for everyone. The thirsty will drink; the hungry will eat. He will provide for those who cannot provide for themselves—no strings attached. This will be a lavish feast, satisfying all who will come. God delights to share all he has. He is the ultimate cheerful giver!

How can our hospitality look more like his and less like the superficial pictures of hospitality we see on our screens? And how can we begin to reflect his welcome in ways that don’t leave us feeling exhausted and over-burdened? Here are three suggestions:

How can we begin to reflect Christ’s welcome in ways that don’t leave us feeling exhausted and over-burdened? Here are three suggestions.

Remember the purpose

The purpose of our hospitality is not to show off our homes or our cooking skills but our Saviour. We want to call our friends and neighbours to the only feast that is truly satisfying and life-giving. We don’t want to offer superficial hospitality that looks good but does nothing to satisfy the deepest longing of the human heart—to know and enjoy our Creator. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share meals, but we want to offer more than just food and drink. We want to point to the generous, satisfying welcome of our God.

When you invite someone to share a meal—or go for a coffee or a walk—with you, try to spend less time worrying about what you will eat (or not eat), and more time praying about how you can point them to Jesus.

Refuse to show favouritism

God welcomed us when we were his enemies. He showed favour to the underserving and unlovable—and he wants us to do the same. Throughout the Bible, he teaches his people to care for the poor, vulnerable and needy.

It’s tempting to work hard to impress those who already have a lot while making less of an effort for those who don’t expect much. But the gospel reshapes our hospitality. It calls us to be most generous to those who are most in need—those who cannot offer anything in return.

Who in your church family is least likely to receive a phone call, text or dinner invitation this week? Who in your street seems especially lonely or in need of care? Which of your work colleagues is excluded from office banter or staff socials? These are the people who most need your welcome.

Rely on grace

Hospitality can be daunting, and it can be exhausting. When we feel overwhelmed or inadequate we can persevere, trusting in God’s grace to equip and sustain us. We may not have all the resources we need, but he does.

We can open our homes and our hearts to those we live, work and worship alongside, with joyful confidence that the one who has shown such generous welcome to us will equip us to share his welcome with others.

This is an extract from Extraordinary Hospitality (for Ordinary People), a practical and realistic book from writer, speaker and pastor’s wife, Carolyn Lacey. She explores seven ways in which we can reflect God’s character in the way we welcome others into our homes and into our lives, and so point people ultimately to Christ.

Carolyn Lacey

Carolyn Lacey is a writer, speaker and pastor’s wife. She serves alongside her husband, Richard, in Worcester, UK, where they live with their two teenage children. She teaches the Bible regularly at women's events and conferences, and loves looking for ways to apply God’s grace to the mundane moments of ordinary life.

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