Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Startling hospitality: a mark of the church universal

Hospitality is a kindness recognized the world over. On every continent, to be invited into someone's home is a special honor, and more so, to be invited to share table fellowship around a warm meal.

In a closed world, where people are less and less involved in one another's lives, table fellowship and hospitality is fast becoming a lost art. Even families have been fragmented by busy schedules, broken marriages, and unrealistic demands, such that time spent in leisure around a table is unknown for very many people.

And if hospitality is fast disappearing among friends and family, what then can we expect of the ancient practices of simpler times where strangers were welcomed into the home to share a meal or spend a night out of the cold in the midst of a long journey? This is almost unheard of in today's suspicious, crime-ridden, and isolated society.

In the last several months, Melissa and I have learned that there is one place in this world where hospitality is alive and well. In Pateros, Washington and in Jonesboro, Arkansas, we were invited into the homes of people we did not know at all. Within minutes of shaking their hands in fellowship, we were given keys to their homes, free access to their refrigerators, and even access to their cars. The bond of trust that existed between us? Only that we shared a lord and master in Jesus Christ and were working to serve Him. I found it simply amazing the reception I have received by Christians from around the world, every age, denomination, and cultural background. Such giving, such trust, and such kindness extended to those hardly known, this is a mark of the church universal.


Gunslinger said...

Behavior breeds policy. What was that movie? Pass it on? With the idea that if everyone does one good deed toward their fellow man, then the world will be a peacful place?

When I went to California last summer for Steve's wedding, I was treated with much the same hospitality by complete strangers. I met these people once before at Steve's bachelor's party, but months later when I arrived in California, I was treated like a member of the family. Full access to the fridge, movies, alcohol, and everything. Those people made my stay (for free) in California a truly wonderful memorable time. I hope that I can somehow return the favor someday.

Dwayne Hilty said...

Good stuff. I would go as far to say that "hospitality" is even a spiritual discipline. I think Foster calls it one of his "outward disciplines" but I think he's on to something. It is an, it is a way of life that is so vital to loving on people.