One, Make That Two, Invitations in Ten Years
In ten years of living in Anchorage, and visiting so many churches, I’ve been invited home to dinner only once after services. Unfortunately it was only due to a scholastic connection established by my aged mother who was visiting a church with me. Occasionally, churches will have potlucks or a fellowship dinners after the service, and only sometimes will invite visitors to join them, but often even this is a common oversight.
But That Second Invitation in Fairbanks Was Great!
This summer during a visit to a small independent Baptist church in Fairbanks, I, along with a friend, was invited to Sunday dinner by a thirty-something gentleman.
Unfortunately, a precommitment that afternoon forced me to decline the invitation. But, I’ve never forgotten that warm invitation and encounter. I obtained the name of the couple extending the invitation and intend to dine with them and learn more about their strong Christian faith that impels them to invite strangers into their home. In that dinner invitation I was changed forever.[img_assist|nid=154451|title=Abraham and Three Strangers|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=278]
Just Check Your Bible
The Bible is full of examples and strong encouragement to extend hospitality to strangers, beginning with the story of Abraham’s extravagant hospitality to strangers as recounted in Genesis 18. His response was one of personal service and caring to those whom he did not know. True hospitality is attended by a power that draws people, most likely because it is such short supply in our culture today. What good is it to spend hundreds of dollars to attract a single seeker of truth to our centers of faith, if we cannot treat them hospitably?
Hospitality is not only about offering a stranger a meal, but sharing meals with strangers is supported by multiple Biblical admonitions and significant blessings.
Sadly, it’s the rare pastor who even delivers remarks about true Christian hospitality from the pulpit. Linked to the Abramic story is Jesus’ observations about hospitality, the judgement, and His return.*
Share Your Thoughts
In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, I invite readers to share positive and less-than-positive stories of their impressions of church hospitality and being invited home to a meal by commenting here. If you would like a free listing of Biblical references to hospitality, send a note to me at ChurchVisits@gmail.com.
* Matthew 25:31-48 NASB
31“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32“All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”