Yours in Christ: Pastoral Letters from Resurrection, State College

Show Hospitality To One Another Without Grumbling

Dear Resurrection,

Have you ever noticed that the word “hospitality” contains the word “hospital”? This is because both words come from the same Latin root, hospes, meaning “guest,” “visitor,” “stranger,” or “host.” In a hospital, a visitor is welcomed in, cared for, and sent back into the world (ideally) on the path towards healing. What I want to ask you is this: Have you ever thought of your home that way? We can all think of examples of when a hospital was not a welcoming place, a caring place, a place really to get better. Most of us have practically no control over that. But you do have a say in what kind of place your home will be—whether your home is the kind of place where people are welcomed, cared for, and cured.

As we consider the various “one another” commands in the Bible, today I want to point you to a third way Christians are called to invest in one another’s lives: we are to “show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).

Now, our concept of hospitality can be clouded by a couple of things. First is the idea of the “hospitality industry.” Biblical hospitality is not about building a business, satisfying consumers, or getting outstanding reviews. It’s about opening our hearts and homes to provide welcome and care and nurture to people in need of refuge and encouragement during their pilgrimage through a hostile world. (And that, by the way, describes every one of us.)

Another way we can get mixed up is by the notion of “entertaining.” Thinking about hospitality as “entertaining” can tend to focus our attention on ourselves—making a good impression. Biblical hospitality is about humility. It’s about service. It’s about stooping down into the mud alongside somebody else, welcoming somebody else into the mud of your life, not so that person will be impressed, but so that person can get help in their distress, companionship in their loneliness, solidarity in their fight against sin, celebration in their joys.

I want to see Resurrection grow as a church where God’s people are much in one another’s homes, where showing hospitality without grumbling becomes like breathing for us. Why? Because we serve a hospitable Savior. You have been welcomed by Christ out of the dark and cold of the world into the very family of God. Learning to open our hearts and homes to one another is part of growing to be like Jesus.

Grace-Based Action Point

Obviously, living during a pandemic has a big impact on what hospitality looks like. But the need for Christians to step up to the task of extending sacrificial care and welcome to others hasn’t gone away; it’s only increased. I want to encourage you not to use Covid as an excuse not to grow in this area. Instead, think, “How can I grow by God’s grace in the Christian virtue of hospitality during and through these times in creative ways that are appropriate to my opportunities and my vulnerabilities?” For some wise and timely reflections on this I’d recommend this article and this podcast by Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Gospel Comes with a House Key, a book I warmly commend to all.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Simmons