The Disappearance of Biblical Hospitality?

from Missional Church Network by Brad Brisco

The past few months I have been doing research on the topic of “biblical hospitality” for a workbook that my friend Lance Ford and I are doing with The House Studio. I use the adjective “biblical” to help differentiate it from what usually comes to mind when people hear the word hospitality. Most people today picture entertaining around meals or inviting family and friends into their homes for a night of fun and games. Some may think of the “hospitality industry” that includes hotels, restaurants, or cruise ships that work judiciously to create an atmosphere of friendliness and welcome. However, neither of these examples speaks to the richness of biblical hospitality, which focuses on the love of strangers by the opening of our homes and our hearts. When we understand the depth of hospitality, it is hard to deny that over time the Christian community has lost touch with the transformative realities of true biblical hospitality.

After a wonderful historical survey of the complex tradition of hospitality, including the words and activities from Jesus, to the Apostle Paul, to John Chrysostom, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, Christine Pohl, in the excellent book, Making Room, writes:

Even a superficial review of the first seventeen centuries of church history reveals the importance of hospitality to the spread and credibility of the gospel, to transcending national and ethic distinctions in the church, and to Christian care for the sick, strangers, and pilgrims. Granting that the practice was rarely as good as the rhetoric, still, we pause to wonder, if hospitality to strangers was such an important part of Christian faith and life, how did it virtually disappear?

Here is my question for you. When did we lose the capacity to give and receive hospitality? Why has it virtually disappeared from the life of the church and from those who make up the church? I will share in future posts some of the reasons I believe we have moved away from hospitality, but for now I would like to hear what you think. What keeps you from opening your home (and life) to others?

This post was first published on The House Studio blog.

This entry was posted in Christianity, Church, Community, Compassion, Culture, Discipleship, Dysfunctional, Grace, Hospitality, Integrity, Meals, Mission, New Monasticism, Spirituality, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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