"Let love be genuine… Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality" (Rom. 12:9-13). "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers" (Heb. 13:12). As we see in just these brief examples, Scripture calls us to live a life of genuine love and hospitality.
In this issue, Michael Horton observes that this divine hospitality is most "fully and lavishly exhibited in the Father's gift of his Son and the Spirit who unites us to him as coheirs of the everlasting estate." This is a game-changer for our perspective on life, fellowship, and stewardship. At the core of this hospitality is the love of God in Jesus Christ who, in the power of his Spirit, is our love-enabler. In his article, Horton traces the scriptural thread of "eating and drinking in the presence of the Lord"—the Lord's Supper anticipating the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7).
But our role now is also around more common tables at which we extend Christ's hospitality to others. In antiquity, Christine Pohl reminds us, "the most hospitable communities had a strong sense of identity" and were able to welcome others "because of their deep commitments." As Brian Thomas explains, Martin Luther and Katherine von Bora showed this same spirit of hospitality, an "invitational life," as they welcomed many into their crowded house.
Chad Van Dixhoorn writes that love and hospitality are genuine when we extend them to others regardless of our personal convenience or profit. Brotherly love must follow Jesus' teaching and have regard for "the least of these"—but sometimes this includes the social "pariah." An anonymous pastor shares a story about a sex-offender who joined his church and how that congregation had to prayerfully determine the extent of its love and hospitality.
In his article, Kelly Kapic explains how the Spirit of God works to bring unity among us and that we need to "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3). And, as we learn from Zach Keele and Mihai Corcea, we see this same Spirit working on the day of Pentecost in ancient Jerusalem and in today's Romania. Christian hospitality, writes Mary Ellen Godfrey, "begins with a realization that we have received grace." How we show hospitality acknowledges this and helps us honor fellow image-bearers and children of the same Lord, faith, and baptism (Eph. 4:5).
Truly, that is food for thought.
Ryan Glomsrud (D.Phil., University of Oxford) is Executive Editor for Modern Reformation and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Harvard University. He earned his M.A. in Historical Theology from Westminster Seminary California and B.A. from Wheaton College, Illinois.
Issue: "Feasting with Christ" Sept./Oct. 2014 Vol. 23 No. 5 Page number(s): 4
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