Since Rosaria Butterfield came to talk to us on a Wednesday night, nearly a month ago, the message Rosaria shared with us has challenged and overwhelmed those who heard her speak. Are we to practice this kind of hospitality in our homes? How can we possibly have the energy and resources necessary for the kind of hospitality that Rosaria and her family practice in their home? Should we practice hospitality? What should hospitality look like for us? Why extend hospitality?
I’d like to take some time in this first post to explore the question of why extend hospitality? First, let’s take a look at our place in this world. We all have some level of understanding that this world is alien to us as believers. This place is not our ultimate home. We are residents of God’s Kingdom even as we live here until Jesus returns or we pass from this life. What does God’s Kingdom look like and what is our part in it?
Let’s look first to the Old Testament to see what God has to say to His people when they were exiled from Jerusalem into Babylon. In Jeremiah 29 the message is to:
- Build houses and live in them
- Plant gardens and eat their fruit
- Take wives and have sons and daughters
- Take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage
- So that they can bear sons and daughters and multiply there
- Seek peace for the city where I have sent you
- Pray to the Lord on its behalf
- For it is in its well-being that you will have peace
Here we have a description of what it looks like for God’s people to settle into an alien culture and be a blessing into that culture.
We see Jesus engaging with His culture throughout the gospel narratives. Jesus was all about:
- Spending time with people
- Having meals with them
- Celebrating with them
- Caring for them
- Healing them
As Jesus came to break into this world, introducing the Kingdom of God, He issued a call to His disciples to, in dependence upon the Holy Spirit to live in such a way that our families, friends, and neighbors can come to know the reality of the Gospel.
This same idea of seeking the welfare of the city is extended in 1 Peter 2:12, 15, 20, 24; 3:1, 11, 17; 4:19 where we are called to respond to hostility with good works. We are to keep our behavior excellent among the unsaved so that, even if they slander you as evildoers, they may glorify God because they observe your good deeds.
David John Seel Jr. in his book Building Wells in a Spiritual Desert summarizes well our responsibility to live as Kingdom dwellers:
We are to be agents of shalom. The consequence of our efforts with others, in culture, and in creation should collectively smell like human flourishing .
Based on 2 Corinthians 5:20, we have the opportunity to participate as ambassadors of reconciliation and agents of shalom until Christ comes again to bring this reconciliation and shalom in its fullness.
Through upcoming posts we hope to continue to prompt discussion about kingdom living in our local community. We hope to provide concrete ideas so that we can impact our particular spheres of influence. We plan to begin to model discussions around simple meals with our neighbors, provide recipes for simple meals, suggest topics for conversation as you get to know and impact your neighborhoods, your workplaces, and your extracurricular activities.
Thank you for taking the time to read and think about this first post. Please use it as a launch for discussion in your life groups. Our desire is that these communications can help to facilitate a cultural shift into local community action.
More to come…
P.S. To read the purpose behind this post (and following posts), click here.