Summer of Hospitality #9 - Hospitality? How do I begin?
"Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality."
Ours is a world that desperately needs hospitality. It is a world where people everywhere experience broken relationships, mistrust, hostility, anxiety and hopelessness. Technological advances bring their benefits, but often at the expense of family togetherness and stability, trusting relationships, and enduring friendships. People today are more mobile, often reducing family groups to nuclear families, and in many cases to singles living alone or as single parents. The extended family is no longer available as a source of personal support or as a ready-made team to share in the work entailed in hospitality. At the same time that people are searching for true affection and caring, hungering for relationships that will last, Christians find themselves so spent they can scarcely respond. Christians are no different from those around them in these respects. Yet we desperately need each other. And the world needs our love. In truth, many will never hear what we say about God's love until they have experienced it in our midst.
So what can we do to bring real hospitality back into our lives as a church family and into the lives of our neighbors as we seek to meet their needs? First, commit ourselves to be used of God. Commit to be intentional about meeting the needs of others through whatever aspect of hospitality God calls us to perform, recognizing our dependence upon Him for strength and the realization of our purpose. Second, bathe the gift of hospitality in prayer. Ask God to make us discerning of the needs of others and ask Him to bless our efforts to meet those needs. Ask Him to purify our motives and to give us strength to do what He wants us to do.
Finally, set clear priorities. Ellen White, in her book The Adventist Home broke our priorities in to three areas. Our families and their needs take first priority. Families need attention, and should not be pushed aside for the larger task of hospitality. There are times in all families when family members are in a position to minister to others. The entire family can be included in gestures of hospitality. But there are also seasons in the life of every family when they themselves need to be ministered to, times when they simply must retreat to rekindle their own flames. Our next priority goes to friends, neighbors and co-workers whom we encounter on a daily basis. As part of the support network of persons to which we belong, we are privileged to be used by God to bear the burdens of those close to us. Our final priority includes the strangers God sends our way and to whom we respond according to our ability to help. The pressing question of hospitality for all three groups is always: What are the needs of each person and how can I help to meet those needs?
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