At a recent small group gathering that we call community group we discussed this scripture verse, “Do not neglect hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)
Interesting verse even if you don’t believe in angels which for the record I do.
As a group of suburban Americans we agreed that we do a poor job of showing hospitality to anyone much less to strangers. By hospitality I mean showing friends and strangers a warm, generous, friendly, generous reception into our homes.
Our tendency is to ask, maybe even demand, that guests schedule a time to come over to our house. Any spontaneous drop in gets met with a pause at the door and a look of “what are you doing here”.
What is it that makes it hard for us to be hospitable? Is it image management? Do we feel put out? Are we afraid of people we don’t know? Maybe we are just too busy.
It seems like a generation or two ago they did a better job at warmly receiving friends and even strangers. Families, for one, spent more time at home especially around meal time. And the cook in the home always prepared more than enough food.
A friend in our community group who is of Taiwanese descent shared how in the Asian culture they will not only invite a stranger into their home, they will pull out their best to share with them.
I experienced this more than once on some of my trips to Asian countries. Once while walking with a group of friends through a small village in China, we began talking to someone outside their home. Within a few minutes of conversation through interpretation, this person invited all seven of us into their home. Out came a nice china tea set. Then the host gave us tour of their modest home sharing history of different items throughout. And I think they would have served us tea and entertained us for as long as we wanted to stay.
All of us in our group commented on how different that was from our culture. I can’t imagine seeing a stranger walking down our street and end up inviting them into my house for tea or a meal, especially an obvious foreigner. If I were to walk down the street of some parts of my own city, I know people would look at me with suspicion, much less invite me into their home.
So, we don’t do hospitality good anymore which is very sad to me. Why would it matter if we practiced hospitality or not? Here are five reasons that come to mind.
- I take that verse I quoted literal. I wonder if I have ever entertained an angel.
- Practicing hospitality is the opposite of attacking someone based on their race, religious beliefs, and so on. In order to be hospitable we have to build bridges rather than tear them down.
- Our lives slow down when we take time to invite friends and strangers in our home.
- We place an importance on others keeping us humble and gracious.
- We build community. When we entertain others in our home we get to know them better, and they get to see more of the real us.
What would you add to that list?
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