Sriracha makes everything better. That green capped bottle should be a fixture at every meal, whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even dessert. If you’re between meals, let’s set aside that spicy-sweet cocktail for a minute to consider something even more important–hospitality. I realize that very few things show hospitality better than sharing your bottle of Sriracha, but–crazy as it is–Sriracha doesn’t suit everyone’s palate. So, for the Christian, Sriracha is optional while hospitality is not.
Our practice of Christian hospitality is an indicator of how much we grasp the gospel. As Paul tells the church in Thessalonica, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)
I was reminded of the purpose and practice of Christian hospitality in an article written by Charles Winged this week:
Christian hospitality opens homes and hearts. It’s vitally important for churches to learn the art of hospitality.
My own definition of hospitality: “any direct and personal act of welcoming love, care or provision given by one Christian to guests or strangers, whether Christian or not.”
Hospitality is not charity. Charity is most often indirect care, offered through intermediaries, to those in distress. Hospitality is direct and may be offered to anyone, affluent or poor.
Hospitality is a matter of life and death.
Wingard goes on to give helpful examples and encouragement for how we might show hospitality to others. I encourage you to read the rest of the article “The Church Must Learn Christian Hospitality“…
I’m somewhat surprised how often the bible teaches us about hospitality (Gen. 19:1-2; 26:30; 43:16; Exod. 2:20; Lev. 19:33-34; Deut. 10:19; 2 Kings 4:8-10; Job 31:32; Luke 8:2-3; 10:38; John 12:1-3; Heb. 11:31; 13:2; to name a few). Sadly, in those days, Sriracha didn’t exist or I think it would have been included in the Mosaic Law. The book of Acts speaks of the frequent opening of homes to break bread together (Acts 2:46). The conversions of Lydia and the Philippian jailer are excellent examples of hospitality. Immediately after their baptisms, they invite the apostles into their homes (Acts 16:15; 16:34).
But, one of my favorite examples of hospitality in Scripture is Rebekah. In Genesis 24 Abraham sends his servant to find a bride for Isaac. When he arrives at a well outside the city of Nahor, he prays for God’s help. While he was still praying, along came Rebekah. She volunteers to provide water not only for the servant bur for his camels. In a sermon on Gen. 24 I mentioned why that is such a big deal:
Notice how eager she is to give the servant a drink of water. She “quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink” (v.18). Then again “she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels” (v.20).
Volunteering to water ten camels would not have been a small task. Each camel might drink up to 25 gallons. And we know they would have been thirsty from the journey. This task might have required over 50 trips with a typical 3-gallon jar!
It’s interesting that Abraham’s servant would simply gaze at her in silence this whole time (v.21). Why did he just stare at her? Why not help? Maybe there was some cultural restriction that would have kept him from accessing the well. I don’t know. But it does seem like she could have perceived him as being rude.
There is a YouTube channel where a guy does really awkward things to see how people will respond. For instance, there is a video of him holding the door for people when they are still hundreds of feet from the door. It’s funny to see people begin to jog forward so he isn’t standing there forever.
As I was imagining Abraham’s servant staring as Rebekah is making numerous trips to feed ten thirsty camels, I thought of another video this guy did. He is walking through the halls of a college campus and just as someone is walking past him, he drops a big stack of papers. Typically, one or two passersby would stop and kneel down to help him pick them up. But just as they begin to help, he stands up and watches them do all the work. It’s really funny! Some of the people would get upset and walk away. But others would keep gathering the papers as he awkwardly stood over them.
It really says something about the quality of a person’s character when they are willing to serve those who never contribute to the work. Part of the “camel test” was to see whether she would follow through on her word. We find her to be eager to serve others…
Hospitality is an important characteristic for Christians to adopt and the Church to encourage. It is certainly a draining activity. It takes a long time to setup and cleanup. But each time we show hospitality, we should be reminded of the table Christ has prepared for us. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in order that he might host us at His table for all eternity. The Lord’s Table is open to those who have found their rest in Him. And it is because of the grace He has freely shown to us, that we graciously receive others.
I doubt you’ll have the opportunity to feed a stranger’s camels anytime soon, but when was the last time you shared your Sriracha with a neighbor or another member of your church? Let us remember how much hospitality models the gospel to an increasingly isolated and independent society.