“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
I was reading a book, The Long Walk, about 7 men who escaped a Soviet labor camp and walked over 3,000 miles to India. Near the end of their journey they came across a small Tibetan town that sheltered, fed, and cared for them; the tribal leader gave the men his home while his family slept outside. As they left that village, one of the prisoners reflected: “These people make me feel very humble. They do a lot to wipe out bitter memories of people who have lost their respect for humanity.”
One of the main missions of the church is hospitality; not only the institutional church but also individual Christians.
The gift of hospitality is an act of spiritual discipline because by opening our resources, our homes, our finances—our lives—to someone, it becomes an act of selflessness. We are saying that their needs precede our needs. Hospitality is a form of sacrifice because we give without expecting anything in return.
What caught my attention in The Long Walk was how the gift of hospitality was able to wipe out bitter memories. By giving in such a dramatic fashion, the evil of the past was redeemed. It restored hope for these men. That is why God calls us to be hospitable, in order that we may demonstrate the love of God which brings us hope.
It helped me see that hospitality goes far deeper than responding to someone’s immediate and basic needs, but also offers dignity, worth and hope to people.
What ways do we offer hospitality to strangers? What prevents us from being hospitable? When were you on the receiving end of someone’s generosity, how did it make you feel?