“Above all, love each other deeply,” says in I Peter 4:8a, NIV
How can we love each other deeply amid disagreement? What does it take to put love for God and others above all?
Our love for God is best demonstrated whenever we extend hospitality to others. To welcome everyone with open arms is a good sign of hospitality. Extending a helping hand to someone in despair who needs help without expecting anything in return manifests our obedience to God’s will to be hospitable.
Ordinarily, our practice of hospitality often involves offering meals to the hungry or giving help to strangers. Usually, when we do these acts of goodwill, we feel good about ourselves and think we did what is required of us. I suggest that that is true only to some extent. For me, genuine hospitality is about more than providing food and service. Although sharing meals and assisting others are excellent hospitality practices, a Christian expression of hospitality is far greater than these two great examples. There is more to feeding the hungry, welcoming strangers, visiting the sick, and clothing the naked.
This week I watched Bishop Merrill’s Episcopal Address during the Holy Communion service of the Arkansas Annual Conference. She says, “I have felt God’s hospitality through you. This hospitality lies at the very core of my faith. The divine invitation that I have found in Christ and his people is the reason that I stand here for you today.” Bishop Merrill and many other stories like her lead us to believe that God’s hospitality is a life-changing, life-affirming, and setting-free kind of hospitality. And God is inviting us to live out this kind of hospitality in how we relate with others.
How can we practice God’s hospitality, kindness, and generosity toward others?
A true expression of our desire to live a Christ-like life can only be done through our life of hospitality. Hospitality, therefore, is a genuine way to show love to God and love for others, even for your own sake. As Christ’s disciples, we believe in God’s hospitality in our life through Christ Jesus. Let our beliefs shape our practice of hospitality, and let our acts of hospitality show what we believe. As you go around this week, how can you be hospitable to God, your neighbors, and yourself?
By Andrew Pratt
There are no strangers to God’s love
Yet we privatised God’s grace
Bound by nationhood and lies
In fear we shrouded love’s own face
Acknowledging our sin and greed
We come confessing common need
When people seeking sanctuary
Come to our shores and need our aid
Then in Christ’s name let’s offer care
Through this our debt of love is paid
God’s grace is free this grace receive
Let actions show what we believe. Amen