Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Gospel and the Household

I want to take a moment to consider a Biblical character quality that has suffered neglect in our culture: hospitality. This quality is enjoined upon every believer (Romans 12:13, I Peter 4:9, Hebrews 13:2) and it is a non-negotiable requirement for all Christian leaders (I Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8). Thankfully, hospitality is making a comeback as the grace of Christ opens hearts and homes in many places.
The Principle of Hospitality
John Piper reminds us that the Gospel, at its heart, is a form of hospitality.
“The ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of the household of God. We are no longer strangers and sojourners. We have come home to God."
Even for God, hospitality involved sacrifice. As His sacrifice brought magnificent benefit to humanity and much glory to God, so our small sacrifices of hospitality can serve others and glorify our Father in heaven. My pastor often reminds me that every Christian household can be an outpost for ministry, and every true church is a part of the "household of God" (Ephesians 2:19, I Timothy 3:15, I Peter 4:17) which is made up of our households. A concordance study of the word "household" is be a good way to rediscover a few of the forgotten Biblical principles around this topic. Hospitality is nothing less than the mercy of God extended through a household as outsiders are welcomed in and cared for.

The Practice of Hospitality

 Do you lack hospitality? Do you want to grow in this grace? There is a cure! As in many other areas, the medicine and its effect are the same. What do I mean by that?

A friend once said to me, "If you want to be more humble, start doing humble things. It's hard to be proud when you're scrubbing toilets or picking up trash." Well, trust me, it's not impossible! But that's still good advice, and the same goes for hospitality. If you want to be more hospitable, invite some folks over and serve them. Feed them. Turn off the TV, computer and other devices and listen to them. Ask questions. Talk to them. Don't wait until you feel like it. Do it this week.

An Opportunity
Another good way to grow in hospitality is to get around people who practice it with joy and excellence.

My friends Craig and Theresa Bowen are just that sort of people. They have recently launched "A Candle in the Window," a Christian hospitality network. Over the years, the Bowens have hosted hundreds (if not thousands) of visitors in their home (including me and my family on numerous occasions). They exude kindness, compassion and genuine care, not only in big ways but also in the small ways that say, "You're truly welcome here."

If you would like to stay with hospitable Christians when travelling, and also open your home to fellow believers who are away from home, a one or two year membership in "A Candle in the Window" might be a good investment. While there is a small fee to join, a one or two year membership costs less than most hotels charge for a single night's stay. Theresa recently wrote to let me know they are offering special introductory rates at this time. See below for details, and please help spread the word to those who might find this useful.

From Theresa Bowen . . .
We are new and it will take us awhile to build our database. Please show grace as we are growing. At first, there will be fewer member locations… but we believe we will soon be a thriving worldwide network of Christian households delighting in hospitality!
 As an incentive, we are offering free lifetime memberships to the first household in each state or foreign country to join. These will be our “charter members”. Click on the locations page: if there are no members yet from your state or country, join and become your state’s charter member. Hurry! We are also offering an introductory discount of $30/1 year and $50/2 year. To take advantage of our discounts, go to join us, click on either 1 or 2 year memberships. Click next to take you the following screen. Fill out preliminary application and type into the discount code box either FOUNDER'S 1 YEAR (case sensitive and spaces) or FOUNDER'S 2 YEAR (case sensitive with spaces) and the discount will automatically be applied.
 Please help us spread the word… post a link on your facebook page, email or "tweet" it to your friends. Be creative. We also enjoy speaking on the topic of hospitality and would welcome opportunities to do so in your area. The more members we have in different locations, the better it is for everybody!"
Even if you don't join the network, you may want to bookmark the site for valuable insights on how you can grow in the practice of hospitality to the glory of God.

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