The title phrase seems so easy, yet for many of us it isn’t that easy. I am the type of person who loves having people in our home. I enjoy hosting people for dinners, playdates, and community group. However, when asked about hosting a SENT Initiative student 2 years ago, I was hesitant. I remember thinking things like: Isn’t that a long time to have someone in your home? Where are they going to sleep? What will they think of our craziness? Is this going to interrupt the rhythm of our family? But eventually, I got over myself and realized God commands us to be hospitable, and this was a great way for us to do that. I am so glad that we said yes! Looking back, it was a joy for us to host a student in our home.
1. Why We Think It’s Scary
Many people have hesitations about having people in their home because it isn’t decorated “up-to-date,” their cooking isn’t the greatest, they are “introverts,”etc. I understand that, but nowhere in scripture does it say that your home must look like Chip and Joanna Gaines has come to town, that your cooking has to be Whole30 and Rachel Ray approved, or that you have to have an “extrovert” personality to practice hospitality. We are obedient when we “just open the door,” when we welcome people into our craziness. At Mercy Hill we say discipleship is “word taught and life caught.” Life is being caught when you invite someone in and when you are intentional to do life beside them.
But what is the problem? We are selfish! It is our natural human tendency to neglect hospitality and having people to come in. Therefore, it is something that we must practice. There are many examples in scripture of how the home was used to further the gospel in early Christianity. Here are some examples in scripture where we are commanded to practice hospitality:
Romans 12:13—“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
3 John 7-8—“For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.”
1 Peter 4:9-10—“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…”
2. Why It’s a Joy
Practicing hospitality can be scary at times, but it is such a joy. John Piper says it so well, “[W]hen we practice hospitality, we experience the thrill of feeling God’s power conquer our fears and our stinginess and all the psychological gravity of our self-centeredness. And there are few joys, if any, greater than the joy of experiencing the liberating power of God’s hospitality making us a new and radically different kind of people, who love to reflect the glory of his grace as we extend it to others in all kinds of hospitality.”
Many of the students who go through City Project and City Life haven’t seen Christian family lived out, and so for them to see this modeled is huge, even when it is messy and crazy. Them seeing a family practice forgiveness and live out the gospel day in and day out leaves such a mark on their lives. For our family, hosting a student meant more conversations around table, conversations about life and the future over doing laundry and dishes. It was awesome watching our kids light up when our student would arrive home and their seeing the gospel go forth to the nations as our student went on mission trips throughout the summer. It was a joy over the summer to hear and see firsthand all that the Lord was doing in her life. She has become another Hopper! She still comes over frequently, and I am so thankful to have said yes.
So, may our hospitality—our “just opening the door”—be an extension, an overflow of God’s hospitality to us. May we be good stewards of God’s grace. As another one of Mercy Hill’s plumblines says, “Generosity fuels the mission.” Don’t ever underestimate the power of your living room as a launching pad for new life and hope and ministry and mission!
– Anna Hopper (Mercy Hill Covenant Member)