Biblical Hospitality VS Dick Van Dyke
What do you think of when you hear the word “hospitality”? If you are anything like me, you imagine something like a scene from “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, without all of the crazy antics. You probably think of a spotless house, cherub-like children, a roast cooked to perfection, and your hair neatly coifed. With that image in mind, hospitality may seem like an entirely insurmountable feat. If you are anything like me, you are in your sweats until sometime around one in the afternoon, when your almost-three-year-old is down for a nap. Your house looks nothing like a Martha Stewart magazine. And you would probably need a fleet of stylists to get your hair under control.
But–Biblical hospitality has nothing to do with a clean house, a delicious meal, or a stylish hair-do. When we allow ourselves to think this way, hospitality is often shoved to the bottom of our to-do list. It seems like a nice idea, and we know that it is something we ought to do as Christians. But when we start to create our own concept of hospitality, we often defeat ourselves before we have even begun. So, what does the Bible say about hospitality?
In Romans 12, we see Paul exhorting the Roman Christians to respond to the grace of God in a certain manner. Essentially, this chapter is Paul’s way of saying, “God has been abundantly gracious to you. Because of this, you are required to act a certain way.” Verse 13 gives us a look at hospitality from that perspective. “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” We can take a lot away from this small verse.
The very first word shows us the big picture – “Contribute.” When someone contributes, more often than not, they are not the only ones contributing! Paul assumes that the Roman Christians will work together to serve each other’s needs. One person cannot serve every need for every person. Hospitality should not be a burden. This word also means even if there may be one great hospitable person in your midst, you are still required to contribute.
The second thing Paul wants us to focus on is the “needs of the saints.” Hospitality isn’t one-size–fits–all. It will look different almost every time. It requires relationships with fellow Christians. When we have ongoing relationships, we will often see areas of need. It is those areas that Paul wants us to focus on. Serving someone in an area where they have no need defeats the purpose. Keep your eyes open for areas of need! This might mean bringing a meal to family who is fighting and illness, or assisting someone with a move. Hospitality is much more diverse than simply having someone over for a meal.
The last part of this verse actually uses the word “hospitality”. Why is Paul exhorting the Christians to show hospitality? For Christians of the early Church, there were not Hiltons or Ramada Inns. When Christians travelled, including Paul, they needed their fellow Christians to show them hospitality by giving them a place to stay and food to eat. Often, the Christians of the early Church were very poor and travelled with next to nothing, simply relying on others to see their needs and serve. Not only does Paul talk about hospitality, but he exhorts the Christians to “seek” to show it. Seeking requires action and intent. We must purpose ourselves to be hospitable.
Hospitality is not about perfection. It is simply an extension of the grace we have been given through Christ. It is about remembering the grace that God has shown us and continues to show us. In light of that grace, we can give of what we have without hesitation. God isn’t asking us to impress our fellow Christians, but to see their needs and serve them with what He has given to us. We are to be contributors to other Christians and we must seek out the needs of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. And this is something God has more than equipped us to do!
Praise God for His unending mercy and abundant Grace. May we extend that grace to each other more and more.