I am not by nature drawn to showing hospitality. I don’t like large groups of people. I don’t like a messy house. I am frugal (a euphemism for cheap) and that means I am anxious about mud on my carpet, worn out couches, scratches on the walls, the grocery bill, and other things that a post-adolescent plague of college-aged locusts bring to my quiet house weekly. I like my personal space and my stuff. I wonder if the house is clean enough and if my kids will be well behaved. In short, hospitality is something that I have had to learn to do.
The other day someone asked me why we don’t simply have the college ministry meet at the church. I have pondered this question before and trust me when I say that after a hot July evening when 50+ students leave my basement in a musky humid haze of BO, I consider it. But, there are a number of reasons we continue to host it. Let me give you a few:
- Paul tells us in Romans 12:13 that we are to “seek to show hospitality.” This is part of what it means to offer your “body as a living sacrifice” (12:1-2). We are to actually look for opportunities to do it and not just do it when it pops up on us. It is easy to invite friends over for dinner, but that is not really Biblical hospitality because even the Gentiles do that. As Christians, we need to be looking for opportunities to minister to people who are difficult to minster to.
- Hospitality is one of the characteristics that I am commanded to display as one of your elder/pastors (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). As elders we are to lead out in this. You should see it modeled and embraced in us. You should hold all of us accountable in this because if we do not practice it then we are disqualified for this noble task of shepherding at LifePoint.
- It is an act of ministry we can do as a family. Selfishly, one reason we host the college ministry is so that my daughters can participate in my ministry. I want them to grow up with habits of hospitality so that if the Lord calls them to marriage and they marry a pastor, they have been trained properly. If that never transpires, I pray that they will have aheart for opening their home no matter their station. We open our home not just to teach college students, but to teach our own kids as well.
- It exhibits an open heart. One of the reasons the college ministry seems to thrive is because young people don’t see the Bible Study as a church program. Their whole world has been programmed and institutionalized, and when there are hot cookies, loud kids, and messiness, it shows them that their presence is welcome in our lives and homes and not just in our church pews.
- It is a reminder to me that God has invited me into His family and one day into His house. In John 1 we are reminded that the world did not receive Jesus. It did not welcome him. And yet in John 14 Jesus says that he goes to prepare a place for us. The world’s way is to close their doors, and one of the ways that we demonstrate our unity and love is by having open doors and sharing meals. It ministers to the saints, but it also models to non-believers a very real picture of the gospel. I believe it is the currency of modern evangelism.
Again, let me say, I have had to learn this. I would love to blame it on my personality and just say, “I just don’t really like people,” but the Bible does not give me that latitude. I don’t get to blame my personality when it comes to my anger, my lack of compassion, or my dishonesty. Simply put, we are called to do it. I am still learning how to delight in it. Many times I do it out of duty, but it is my prayer that I will one day embrace it fully. I pray that LifePoint is a church that is known for the way we live life together and the manner in which our homes are open.
Pastor Nate Gast