Week 9: Church
This week, we look at the Church, the Body of Christ, the context and community in which we learn to live.
Spiritual Practice: Be Radically Hospitable
Hospitality is not just an industry; it is a hallmark of true Christianity. Being hospitable is not just being generous with your time, resources, and space for those you know and love; it is actively creating space for those who might otherwise be outside of your circles, economically, socially, or otherwise.
The author of Hebrews said, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2); and in fact, the Greek word that is used for hospitality in the New Testament is a combination of two words meaning “love” (philos) and “strangers” (xenos).
Being hospitable is a command — “Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13, NIV) — but it is also a real-life application of Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbors. Jesus mentioned feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger as actions that characterized his disciples (Matthew 25:31-46); and, in obedience, the early church was known for making room for the poor and the stranger. As author Christine Pohl writes, “Hospitality is at the heart of Christian life, drawing from God’s grace and reflecting God’s graciousness. In hospitality, we respond to the welcome that God has offered and replicate that welcome in the world.”
What would it look like for you to practice a radical hospitality, a welcome that is both a response to and a reflection of God’s welcome to us? What rhythms would you need to put in place? What walls would you need to break down — in your head, in your heart, or in your schedule? Perhaps it is a hospitality toward the poor in your community — how might you become more aware of and engaged in the struggles of the vulnerable in your city? Perhaps it is a welcome for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, those fleeing violence and turmoil in search of a better life — how might you empathize with and support their cause? Perhaps it is a radical boundary-crossing for those with whom you disagree, politically or theologically — in our call-out and cancel culture, how might you build a bridge with patience and perseverance?
Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf writes powerfully about what he has learned about God’s welcome — and our hospitable response: “Inscribed on the very heart of God’s grace is the rule that we can be its recipients only if we do not resist being made into its agents; what happens to us must be done by us. Having been embraced by God, we must make space for others and invite them in — even our enemies.”
Verse of the Week: Jeremiah 29:7
Promote the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because your future depends on its welfare.