Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Practicing Hospitality: Hospitality and Strangers

Welcome to our chapter two discussion of Practicing Hospitality.  For eight weeks, we'll take a chapter and open it up for discussion.  I'll start us off with a summary of the chapter and then open the linky for questions and thoughts.  Even if you're not reading the book, feel free to add to the conversation.  May you be blessed!

Past chapters:

Chapter Two: Hospitality and Strangers

How many of us have the attitude of being willing to do anything and everything for our friends, maybe even friends of friends?  

Now, what thoughts run through your head when you heard "Hospitality and Strangers?"

The authors zero in on Romans 12:13: "Share with the Lord's people who are in need.  Practice hospitality."

Practice... We're not asked to be Martha Stewart or Paula Deen (I love my Paula).  No, we're practicing. We're starting where we're at and taking steps forward.  Which means we will have to risk failure.  But we're really risking success.  

The authors go on to speak about the attitude behind hospitality, one of joyful giving.  Biblical hospitality being characterized by joy. And generosity.  If we're not willing to be generous with our time, or food, or home, we will serve with a grudging heart.  One that's unable to show Christ's love.

Biblical hospitality is also a daily discipline.  While that doesn't mean a six course meal served at my house every night, it does speak to an attitude to welcomes others even in the most mundane moments of life.  And who might we be showing hospitality to: fellow believers, widow and orphans, unbelievers, poor and needy, missionaries, refugees, etc (pg 55).  

Hospitality focuses on the needs of others: food, lodging, possessions, rest, encouragement, a listening ear, someone to pray with, etc.  The idea of hospitality really opens up to take the focus off us and onto those we're reaching out to.  

Four principles are discussed in demonstrating Old Testament hospitality:
1. Hospitality was viewed as a duty 
2. Hospitality was offered with sincerity
3. Hospitality was inclusive of all people
4. Hospitality was mutually respected--reciprocated with loyalty and friendship

I loved this concluding thought: "... hospitality is a reflection of God's nature.  God is a welcoming God. He pursues and extends relationship, meeting needs and providing safety.  As we model a life of invitation, employing our resources to meet the needs of others, we provide the world with a picture of a much greater spiritual truth--God invites all to his safe embrace" (pg 65).

As a side note, I came across this article from Raising Homemakers that touches on hospitality.  Well-worth the read!

This week's discussion:
1. Write a personal definition of hospitality.  Review key Scriptures to guide your thoughts and support your explanation (Rom 12:13, Heb 13: 1-2, and I Pet 4:9).
2. If you are unfamiliar with the rich theological truths found in Roman 1-11, take some time to familiarize yourself withe the amazing grace of God.  Once you see the context for the command to pursue hospitality (Rom 12:13), consider the following questions:
*Do I reflect my gratitude for God's love for me by how I love others?
*Do I enthusiastically pursue hospitality?
*Do I sacrifice for the needs of others?
*Do I model God's love through hospitality?
3. You are commanded to practice hospitality without complaining (I Pet 4:9).  How can you personally practice hospitality "without grumbling"?  List several application ideas.  What hinders you from practicing hospitality?  What changes do you need to make to eliminate these barriers to hospitality?

Next week:
Join us next Thursday July 7 for Hospitality and Family.

Linky Party:
Feel free to link up below if you're discussing Practicing Hospitality on your blog.  We love hearing your thoughts and being encouraged in this journey together.  Can't wait to hear what you're thinking.

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