The word hospitality might evoke images of soft, sweet kindness, tea parties, and bland conversations, but that is only because we have lost God's vision for loving strangers.
In the original language of the New Testament, hospitality literally means "loving strangers." Hospitality is offering a space where both we and the stranger can grow closer and share our lives as God intended.
Of course, everyone we meet isn't meant to become our closest friend, but God calls us to be people who are constantly reaching out to the strangers in our lives—to serve, befriend, and treat them as people dearly loved by God instead of as objects in our paths.
When we offer hospitality, we open our lives to the transformational work of Christ. Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:9, and Matthew 25:34-40 show that hospitality is important in authentic biblical community. In the Old Testament, it was the highest priority to offer food and shelter to strangers, partially because God at times appeared in the form of traveling strangers.
The challenge is to become people who regularly reach out to the strangers because they are dearly loved by the same God who loves us so much. As Christ followers, we are called to become "carriers of community" wherever we go, even if it is only for a few minutes of conversation or compassion.
[Q] How do you interact with those you don't know well: wait staff, the administrative assistant, coworkers? What do you think is the biggest barrier to showing hospitality to people you don't know well?
[Q] Think about a time when you were a "stranger" or "the new person," but you ended up feeling welcomed. What did people do that made you feel that way?
Make a Change: Determine one way you can be hospitable this week, whether it's helping those in need, opening your home to visitors, or engaging someone new in sincere conversation.