How important is hospitality in a church? How do we bless those who are hospitable towards us? How do we receive each other? How do we receive our preachers? How do we receive newcomers?
I hope that we can become more and more hospitable.
We will look at hospitality in four areas, being welcomed, welcoming those who preach God’s word, welcoming fellow Christians and welcoming newcomers.
Learning to be Gracious Receivers
We once gave a substantial gift to some dear friends who had given us help in a time of need. They became angry at us and distanced themselves from us. It really hurt us, but we have come to understand that sometimes people are reluctant to allow others to bless them. We need to allow others the blessing of blessing us without rejecting their love. The disciples were taught this by Jesus (Matthew 10:40). I remember when I was young playing a solo during a band concert and being very ungracious towards those who tried to pay me a compliment. One of my teachers leaned over to me and whispered a wonderful lesson; when someone pays you a compliment don’t reject it, but simply say thank you. We need to learn to be thankful receivers as well as givers.
Receiving Each Other
Are there certain church teachings that you or I find rather repulsive? How do we treat others who hold doctrines we disagree with, yet follow Jesus? Sometimes it seems like there are large impenetrable barriers between churches. We tend not to like those who are unlike us, who may believe radically different things about Christianity. Yet what did Jesus say on this topic? He said that if someone receives Jesus, he receives our Father in heaven. If we receive a prophet, we receive the same reward. If we are receptive of righteous people, we receive a similar reward to them. And, he said that if we as much as give a cold drink to a newly converted believer, then we will be rewarded. Can we receive each other as fellow believers and not worry about lesser issues (Matthew 10:40).
Respect in a Disrespectful World
Ours can sometimes be a disrespectful society, from the traffic on the road to the halls of politics. People constantly threaten each other with a deadly weapon by tailgating and otherwise driving recklessly. Even police officers get in on the act. Politicians vilify each other shamelessly setting a bad example which permeates our whole society. Rather than argue the issues many assassinate each other’s character. Granted, we have become jaded because far too many in business and political leadership are scoundrels. Even in the Church, bishops, priests and pastors are often seen as a joke or criticized as undeserving of respect and honor. Yet in Matthew 10:40-41 Jesus revealed his stance on the topic. Receive the one sent by Jesus, the prophet as a prophet, the righteous person as a righteous person, and by doing so we receive Jesus.
Hospitality for Preachers
How self-serving it must sound for a preacher to suggest that people show hospitality towards those who carry the message of Jesus. Yet, part of the message of Jesus was that particular communication (Matthew 10:40-41). If a preacher is to proclaim the whole Gospel message that person may not leave out anything that Jesus taught simply because it may be embarrassing or uncomfortable. Translated variously as welcome or receive, the Greek word refers to hospitality. God so much identifies with his representatives that a welcome of that faulty, weak fellow human being is equivalent to welcoming a member of God’s own family. As we welcome the preacher in our midst, so are we welcoming the one who sent that person, Jesus. And as we thus welcome Jesus’ representative, we also welcome the one who sent Jesus, God the Father.
Is a Prophet Welcome
At a Baptist conference in Pittsburgh the story was told of preachers forced out of their churches by political manipulations. With family members crying they were not welcome back, all because of vendettas by sometimes unseen but powerful people. It is not just a Baptist phenomenon. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not always popular. People often prefer hearing smooth things such as the notorious false gospel about how to become healthy and wealthy. In Matthew 10:41 Jesus proclaimed a blessing upon those who would welcome God’s messengers. When a preacher of the true Gospel is embraced, so is God. In our family church is a woman who has always shown support of the pastors. She does not tolerate fault-finding against them. Such people who receive righteous servants of God will receive the same reward and not lose it.
Welcoming Disciples & Little Ones
Do we welcome Jesus’ disciples? Of course they no longer walk the earth. The Churches that they established are still here. There are churches founded by them in India, Italy, Greece, Egypt and many other places. Do we welcome those still faithful to the work of those Apostles? Their teachings are also still with us in the New Testament. Do we welcome those words? What about modern day prophets? Are they welcome among us? What about simple righteous fellow Christians? Are they welcome? What about those not yet righteous, because they have not yet learned enough? Perhaps they are still engaged in an unrighteous lifestyle, yet they are humble and wanting to learn? Would we give such little ones even so much as a drink of water? If so, Jesus promises that we will surely be rewarded (Matthew 10:40-42).
Jesus gave four points on hospitality (Matthew 10:40-42). 1) When people welcome us, they welcome Jesus. As we go are we welcomed or not? Are our words Christ's? We all represent Christ and bring his presence with us wherever we go. Do we treat other believers in the way we would treat Christ? 2) Welcome a prophet. The prophet speaks God’s word publicly in contrast to the little ones. Salvation is a gift but those who have done more will be rewarded with more. 3) Welcome a righteous person. In the New Testament righteousness is by faith. Do we welcome Christians? 4) Give little ones a cold drink, an act of hospitality. How do we treat new converts? When others care for us are we gracious guests? Our neighbors need the Gospel. If they welcome us, they welcome Jesus.
How do we act when we are welcomed? How do we welcome our preachers, each other and new people?