hospitality


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HOSPITALITY: HOW ORDINARY PEOPLE CAN LIVE ON MISSION

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Time to eat. Time to serve. “I’d be willing to serve, but I don’t know what I could do.” “Living on mission? That’s something full-time missionaries do—but me?” Are you ready for some good news about living on mission in your community? There is an amazingly simple, and enjoyable, way to serve others as part of your everyday life. In fact, if you can eat, you can be on mission! Deep within us, all people long to share good food with their family and friends—we have a natural appreciation for good meals with lots of conversation, joy, and love. There’s something incredible in these meals that moves way beyond just eating food. This may surprise you, but all of these experiences can point us toward the kingdom of God. How? I believe hospitality is essential for understanding the nature of God and the mission of God. Through Jesus’ teaching—at a meal!—we can learn to comfortably engage people with the love and grace of the gospel. As we’ll see in the pages to come, sharing a meal together can open the door to hospitality, open the door to conversation, and open the door to knowing Jesus. Let’s learn to serve by creating a culture infused with hospitality.

Tony Merida Tony Merida is pastor of Imago Dei in Raleigh, North Carolina, and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of the book Ordinary.

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SPECIAL FOCUS HOSPITALITY

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What makes a special meal so memorable? QUESTION

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#BSFLHospitality

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THE POINT

Hospitality is a practical way to share Christ with others.

THE BIBLE MEETS LIFE Certain meals stand out in our memories. I’m not talking about the food, necessarily, but the occasion: The wedding rehearsal dinner. A Thanksgiving meal with all of your extended family. That unplanned occasion that turned into a long dinner conversation. Our favorite meals may or may not involve great food—but they always involve people. These are the meals where we share life together. The table is often the best place to truly experience fellowship with others. All these experiences point us to the kingdom of God. We were made for moments like this—made for hospitality, friendship, and fellowship. As we’ll see this week, Jesus teaches us to use these moments to extend the kingdom of God to others.

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WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? Luke 14:12-24 (HCSB) 12 He also said to the one who had invited Him, “When you give

a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers, your relatives, or your rich neighbors, because they might invite you back, and you would be repaid. 13 On the contrary, when you host a banquet, invite those who are poor, maimed, lame, or blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” 15 When one of those who reclined at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “The one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God is blessed!” 16 Then He told him: “A man was giving a large banquet and invited many. 17 At the time of the banquet, he sent his slave to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’ 18 “But without exception they all began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m going to try them out. I ask you to excuse me.’ 20 “And another said, ‘I just got married, and therefore I’m unable to come.’ 21 “So the slave came back and reported these things to his master. Then in anger, the master of the house told his slave, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame!’ 22 “ ‘Master,’ the slave said, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there’s still room.’ 23 “Then the master told the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and lanes and make them come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will enjoy my banquet!’ ”

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Resurrection of the Righteous (v. 14)—Refers to the positive side of the resurrection event that will occur during God’s final judgment of the world (see Dan. 12:2 and John 5:28-29).

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THE POINT

Hospitality is a practical way to share Christ with others.

Luke 14:12-14 This passage focuses on two of my favorite subjects: Jesus and food. Specifically, Jesus used the occasion of sharing food to teach about people and the kingdom of God—about hospitality. In many ways, Jesus is the ultimate example of hospitality. He consistently used meals as opportunities to engage people, teach them, and love them.

Who are the outsiders in our community?

QUESTION

#2

In these verses, Jesus calls us to do two things. First, He calls us to invite the outsiders in our communities. Now, Jesus wasn’t opposed to spending time with friends and family. In fact, He made it clear that people will know we’re disciples by our love for one another (see John 13:35). That’s why it’s important to distinguish between fellowship and hospitality: Fellowship is what we do together as believers. Hospitality is how we show love to strangers. Here’s the important point: it’s okay to mix fellowship and hospitality! Jesus never hung out exclusively with the religious establishment, and what He said in these verses was simple: don’t limit the guest list to certain individuals. In fact, give preference to the poor. It’s as if Jesus looked around the room and asked: “Where are the orphans? The troubled teenagers? The people in wheelchairs? The single mom struggling to get by? Where are the people who are broken?” The second thing Jesus calls us to do is be hospitable to those who can’t repay us. Much of our social life is built around repayment. You give me a birthday gift, and I’ll spend a comparable amount on your gift. You buy me lunch, and I’ll buy you lunch. Jesus was talking about something completely different: invite the needy and show them grace, and you’ll be repaid at the resurrection. That’s powerful!

Who do you know who is actively hospitable?

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Why should we practice hospitality? Because we who have been shown grace ought to be gracious to others. And grace can pour out of your hospitality. So collapse the distance between yourself and the marginalized. Make room for them at your table.

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Luke 14:15-24 In Jesus’ second parable, a man gave a banquet—a great party— and invited many people to come. It was common in that day to issue two invitations. The first essentially asked if they wanted to come. If a person responded yes, a second invitation was sent informing the person that everything was now ready for the banquet. Yet when the servant went to those who had RSVPed, they made excuses, lame excuses, for not coming. ”I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it” (v. 18). ”I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m going to try them out” (v. 19). ”I just got married, and therefore I’m unable to come” (v. 20). All of these would have been unacceptable reasons for rejecting a banquet in Jesus’ day—especially since each guest had already agreed to attend. We often hear equally lame excuses when we invite people to church, don’t we? “I can’t. NASCAR® (or some other sport) is on TV.” “I’m working on my tan.” “It’s not a good time right now.” Whatever the excuse, it’s bad news when anything takes priority over Jesus Christ.

What’s the difference between asking someone to church and asking someone to a meal?

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#4

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THE POINT

Hospitality is a practical way to share Christ with others.

In the parable, the host told his servant to go out to the streets and bring in the poor, disabled, blind, and lame. The servant said, “What you ordered has been done, and there’s still room” (v. 22). That’s good news for us: there’s still room. There’s room for us to go out and invite more people into our lives and into our homes. We ultimately want to invite them to the King’s feast in heaven, because there’s room for all who will come. Everything needed has been accomplished for us to come to the King. Jesus came, lived a perfect life, died a substitutionary death, and rose from the dead. Everything is ready. In the story, the master sent his servant out into the highways and hedges to compel people to come in. This is a call to be vigilant and passionate as we compel people to join us. Let’s not be timid! Let’s invite others into our lives, and in the process, let’s invite them to the King’s party. The church I pastor seeks to reach outsiders primarily by practicing hospitality. We do this both one-on-one and in small groups. When someone wants to get involved in our church, he or she will often ask, “How do I get plugged into your church?”

What can we do as a group to “make space at the table” for outsiders?

QUESTION

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Our answer is almost always the same: “Eat with people.” We want believers having meals with their neighbors. Two or three times a week we want them to simply follow Jesus’ example and spend time with people around a table. Let’s invite others in. We who have received God’s grace likewise should show grace. And when you invite people, it might surprise you who says yes. After all, even you did!

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ROOM AT THE TABLE All of us have multiple opportunities for showing hospitality each week. Choose two of the following examples and record at least one person you can invite to join you at your table in the weeks to come.

At Work

At Home

On the Go

Who among your friends and family can help you go “on mission” through hospitality?

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THE POINT

Hospitality is a practical way to share Christ with others.

LIVE IT OUT What will you do to make hospitality a part of your life? Look on the fringes. Wherever people gather together, some tend to be left out. Identify one of these marginalized folks in your circle of acquaintances and offer an invitation. Open your home. Meeting someone at a coffee shop is nice, but there’s something personal about inviting others to your home. It’s a sign of approval and trust. Mix it up. If your group goes bowling, eats lunch together, or meets up for coffee, bring people into the mix who don’t know Jesus. Be a group of ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality. Down the road, someone may ask one of the outsiders in your community, “What made a favorite meal so memorable?” Let their answer include you and your gift of hospitality.

What Is Hospitality? We need to see hospitality through the lens of Scripture in order to understand it rightly and find motivation to do it faithfully. Hospitality doesn’t mean entertaining people. “Entertaining” is often about impressing others; hospitality is about serving others. Entertaining is often about the host; hospitality is about the guests. Entertaining is often shallow and superficial; hospitality is about depth and authenticity.

To continue this excerpt from Ordinary, by Tony Merida, visit BibleStudiesforLife.com/articles. 14 4

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