2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…1 Timothy 3:2
It’s easy to be hospitable to someone you like, to someone who looks like you and talks like you, who runs with the same crowd you do. It’s another thing to “agape-love” an arch rival.
This is exactly what Judas did when cohorts of Saul (Paul) led the newly dubbed apostle by the arm to his house to receive care. Struck down by a blinding debilitating light (Jesus) on the road to Damascus, Christianity’s “public enemy number one” was now at his doorway. Gulp!
The hospitality Paul talks about in 1 Timothy 3:2 is much different than having people over for the big game or even opening your home for a Bible study and serving great food. It’s “loving strangers,” even those who have heretofore been held in contempt.
In the New Testament, hospitality is a big thing. We know early Christians were ostracized and persecuted, e.g. Paul’s had his “papers.” We know also that the church grew by the thousands, yet “they had all things in common.” There were many opportunities to “love strangers” in an intense way back then, and truthfully, now!
In the New Testament we find that hospitality needs to be “practiced” (Romans 12:3); “shown” (1 Timothy 6:10); not neglected, especially as it relates to “strangers” (Hebrews 13:2); used as a prerequisite for leadership in the church (1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8); and extended “without complaint” (1 Peter 4:9).
I must admit this practice of hospitality is hard for me. I’m not even keen on having people over for the big game.
If we don’t like other people, how can we lead them? We know the church is made up of people of all colors and walks of life. They’re all not like one of my bosses used to call the perfect employees; JLU’s (“just like us”).
Will not heaven be filled with “strangers?”
Time to throw a party.
Being really hospitable is very hard to do in practice. Our prejudices are deeply ingrained. I know mine are.
I have to admit that this is much more difficult for me to do when Im in a bad mood. I think as Christians, it’s very easy to be judged for being anything but gracious so we have a thin line not to cross. It’s easy for me to forget that I’m under the microscope, but not too difficult for others to remind me.