Day 19: “A House of Peace”
Is your home a house of peace? Is it a place of hospitality to the nations? To strangers? What would it look like to display the hospitality of the City of Peace in your home? At your work? Through your church? During your mealtimes?
“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you.” Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘”I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.’ Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’” – Romans 12:13–20
One thing we know for a fact is that the family of God is a family of radical hospitality toward outsiders. We were cut off from the kingdom, outside its walls, distant from God, yet in Christ we are welcomed into the Holy of Holies, the inner chamber of God’s most intimate presence, to share a feast with the God of the universe. We are included in the family of God, no longer strangers but family members with access to the full benefits of the household of faith. God has been hospitable to us and invited us into His home. His hospitality toward us at His table is conforming us more into the image of Christ and awakening in us a similar Spirit of hospitality toward all peoples. Intimacy with God always leads to deeper intimacy with others, and as we experience the hospitality of the kingdom found in the love of Christ, that same love compels us into deeper hospitality toward others.
You see, the hospitality of the people of God has an incredible impact on how the world perceives who the God of the Bible is. When we have hospitable hearts toward others and share our table with friends as well as strangers, the world gets a glimpse of the amazing heart of hospitality our Father in heaven has toward us (and even His enemies). As God’s people show genuine hospitality out of love for God and their neighbors (those God brings into our path), the kingdom of God is faithfully put on display and the cross-cultural community of God expands.
We see radical hospitality all throughout the early church (Acts 2:46). Hospitality was a key factor in the underground church growing throughout the oppressive Roman empire through Peter’s ministry (Acts 10:6, 18, 32, 48) and Paul’s ministry (Acts 16:15; 18:7; 21:4, 8, 16; 28:7) They could not have succeeded in their mission to multiply churches if there were not houses of Shalom being opened up around the Roman empire for people to gather to eat and worship. Scripture calls us to “extend hospitality to strangers” (Romans 12:13); “for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). We are called to “be hospitable to one another without complaining” (1 Peter 4:9). The qualifications for leadership in Christ’s Church included having a heart of hospitality (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8).
Besides hospitality being something commanded and modeled throughout Scripture, hospitality is also something God uses in our lives to help form us more into the image of Christ. Hospitality is hard, especially if the Spirit leads you to offer it to someone very different than yourself. It can be uncomfortable, awkward, and could be quite expensive… Doing it the way the Bible commands will take a lot of time, effort, and intentionality. As we engage and “practice hospitality,” in obedient response to God’s hospitality toward us, something begins to happen in our hearts and our own intimacy with God deepens.
We actualize the hospitality of the kingdom as we practice hospitality here in this broken world filled with people who have the potential to extremely inconvenience us or even hurt us. But here is what happens as we obey and follow God’s example. As we experience these “inconveniences” and the invasion of our space that comes with showing Biblical hospitality, our own narcissism, prejudices, and selfish tendencies are confronted. We are forced to come face to face with the sin of our hearts and the lack of love we have for our neighbors. If we are honest, we discover how far our hearts are from the servant heart of Christ, and the reality of our inability to love and serve others like He has loved and served us compels us to repent and trust more fully in the Holy Spirit. Biblical hospitality becomes a joyful sacrifice and “what we do for the least of these we do to Christ…” (Matthew 25:34-40)
Stepping out in faith to obey God’s commands to be hospitable to our neighbors is a great catalyst for Shalom awakening more in our own hearts and in our community. When our spaces are offered up as places that bring Shalom to others, not only does it make God’s name great on the earth, but it also stretches us as His people to become more like Jesus in every aspect of who we are.
1. Take some time to thank your Father in heaven for His radical hospitality toward you. What are the ways you see Him opening Himself toward you and sharing life with you? Write these things out and thank Him out loud for each specific way He has welcomed you into the City of peace and into the intimacy and Shalom of His home.
2. When was the last time you showed Biblical hospitality to someone? When did you last open up one of your spaces to be a place for others to experience the Shalom of God’s kingdom? As you reflect, pray and ask God to reveal any selfish motives of why you do or don’t open up your home to others. If you do not have a home that can be shared with others, what might be a way God is calling you to open up your life to others with a heart of hospitality?
3. Pray for those that are difficult for you to love and open up your life to. Ask God to give you a tender and hospitable heart toward them. Ask the Holy Spirit to open up opportunities for you to show the hospitality of the City to Peace to them, whether it be inviting them into your home, sharing a cup of coffee or maybe even just a pleasant conversation leading to a sense of peace for both of you. Take seriously how the Spirit leads you and follow that leading. Reach out and engage these people in faith that God will show up and that Shalom will be discovered and displayed in the process.