Editor’s Note: This post is the last in a series on hospitality. In this post, we will reflect on the nature of Biblical Hospitality. We will also hear from a former Chinese student as she shares of her experience encountering the sacrificial nature of Christian hospitality after she graduated from university.
How Then Shall We Serve?
It is easy in speaking of hospitality, to conceptualize it on the level of a single, discrete event; a host, as a role we play, not a full calling on our lives. In America, as hosts, we issue a specific invitation for a specific duration of time, and commit to serving our guests wholeheartedly within that window of space. We invite others in and love and care for them, knowing full well that when the last friend leaves and the door finally closes, that life returns back to normal. We remove the oven mitt and set down the apron.
We are hosts for a time, not for life.
And yet, perhaps the Bible envisions something greater when it speaks of hospitality, when it references Mary’s hair dripping of perfume over Christ’s feet (Matthew 26:6-13) and cups overflowing in the presence of the Psalmist’s enemies (Psalm 23:5). Perhaps we are meant to be more than dinner hosts. In the enduring, sacrificial nature of our service and hospitality, in a life lived open-handedly and open-heartedly, perhaps we are meant to paint a much richer portrait of God’s love for our friends than even the greatest of parties or the tastiest of feasts ever could.
Former international student, Daisy, recalls her encounter with such hospitality below:
After graduating from college, I moved out of my apartment. For the first time, I felt like a leaf floating in the wind, not knowing where I would end up next. All I knew was that I was moving on and I needed a place to stay for the next three months. When May came to a close and I was still searching, I reluctantly asked my mentor if I could live with her family, at least until I could find my own place. Believe me, it was so hard! It took a lot for me to even open my mouth to ask her! I was so ashamed and embarrassed that I was being a burden to someone but, at that point, I honestly felt like I had no other choice.
What surprised me was that she and her husband not only said yes, but that they also let me stay for free. They even had one of their daughters sleep on the couch for those three months so that I could use her room. The day I moved in, I distinctly remember her husband calling my name, walking over with the extra house key from his key chain and handing it to me. He wanted to make sure I had full access to the house.
While I was holding that key, I cried. For me, it was not just a key to the door, but to my heart; it made me feel truly loved and accepted, as if I were a full member of the family. On Saturday mornings, they would make my specially requested Texas-shaped blueberry waffles while their daughters would fight over who should do the chores. Sunday mornings, I would jump into their van with their two daughters and we would drive to church together. Though it has been three years since I moved out of their house, I still keep that key on my key chain. It has come to mean a lot to me.
Knowing theirs is a place I can always go back to makes my heart feel so loved and secure.
Therefore, Let Us Go
In the biblical command to be hospitable (Leviticus 19:34; Hebrews 13:2), in the great value that so many cultures, including the Chinese, put on hospitality, we see that the way in which we engage and interact with one another matters. It matters how much of ourselves we share with our students because it is true that one life will always impact another. And though sometimes, this effect is plain to see, as it was in Daisy’s story, sometimes it is hidden from us this side of heaven.
May it be that we, in the power of Christ’s love, commit to serve our friends no matter what the cost and no matter what the reward, knowing that ultimately, it is not man, but the Lord himself, we serve. May it be that what our friends remember most about us, when graduation comes and they move on from the campus, is not the quality of our food, but the quality of our love.
Thoughts to Ponder
What about Daisy’s story stands out to you? Why?
What are some obstacles we have to serving others? What are some obstacles our students may have to being served?
For a greater discussion of Biblical Hospitality, consider this message from John Piper: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/strategic-hospitality