I first learned the power of hospitality in a strip club.
Up until the COVID shutdown, I volunteered with a local organization that shares the hope and love of Jesus with women in the sex industry. Twice a month, we entered strip clubs with homemade meals or special gifts in hand, welcoming the ladies into fellowship. Where a wall of reservation initially separated them from us, our loving acts of hospitality removed that barrier.
As we sat down and ate together time and again, trust was built, and conversations deepened. Stories of pain and dreams for the future were entrusted to us. Our hospitable acts showed the love of Jesus in a tangible way, which naturally led to profound conversations about faith and spirituality. Sometimes we were privileged to pray with the ladies right there in the strip club. Jesus was magnified in the most unlikely of places, and lives were changed.
Our desire was to bring the love and hope of Jesus to women in the sex industry, and hospitality built the bridge to get us there.
As believers, we are all called to build such bridges. Not necessarily in a strip club, but with those that the Lord specifically puts in our paths.
“Always be eager to practice hospitality.” (Romans 12:13 NLT)
But what exactly is hospitality?
One dictionary defines hospitality as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.”
What a picture of Jesus! When we receive others into our homes and our lives with friendliness and generosity, we are representing Him.
A lifestyle of hospitality is a life of incredible Kingdom impact. In her book “The Gospel Comes with A House Key,” Rosaria Butterfield challenges believers to practice “radically ordinary hospitality.” In sharing her conviction that Christians should live with doors wide open, Butterfield shares personal testimonies of how doing so in her own home led to many transformed lives.
As I read this book, I was deeply inspired.
Yes, Jesus, use me like this!
Through my experiences reaching out to women in the sex industry, God had already shown me the power of a hospitable life. And now I desired to represent Jesus in this way even more. I pondered my own personality, home, and family. I recognized that living in such a friendly, welcoming way would not look the same for me as it did for Butterfield.
And so, I prayed, Jesus, what does it look like for ME to practice hospitality?
At the same time the Holy Spirit was stirring in me, I was feeling the effects of burnout. And God had been showing me I had gotten to that place because I wasn’t living within His intended design for me. As an introvert with the highly-sensitive personality trait, God created me to function optimally when I have adequate quiet and solitude to process life and recharge my battery. But I had been doing too much.
I realized I needed to exercise better discernment and implement more boundaries in my life. It was against this backdrop that the conviction to live hospitably began to develop within me. If I were to live out God’s spiritual model of hospitality for all believers, my God-given human personality had to converge with my divine design as a Christian.
Obeying God’s commands is essential for those who want to walk intimately with Jesus. But within obedience there is freedom for creativity and personal expression. For example, God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but the way you love your neighbor will not necessarily be the way I love my neighbor. And so it is with hospitality. Though we are called to practice it, there is no one size fits all.
As we step out of our comfort zone into this bold way of living, let’s consider what God has specifically said about hospitality:
Within these God-given standards, there is a lot of freedom for creativity.
Some thoughts on practicing hospitality:
As we step out in hospitality, we will sometimes feel uncomfortable and awkward, and that’s ok. Things may not go as planned or envisioned. That’s ok too. We are called to practice it regardless of feelings or outcome. It is about demonstrating the love of Jesus to others. When we walk in love, we and others experience God’s best.
How will you begin to practice hospitality? Leave a comment below to share how you’ve shown hospitality in the past.