One of the great habits towards practicing the discipline of community is hospitality. There’s a number of key times that the New Testament calls us to practice hospitality.
“Seek to show hospitality!”Romans 12:13
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”1 Peter 4:9-10
It is worth asking, exactly what is this idea of hospitality?
One way to think of it is about inviting people into your home and sharing a meal together. Jesus own example was one of hospitality around the meal table. Quite a number of Jesus’ key interactions with the disciples and others were around meals. There is something about sharing a meal that allows people to go much deeper into their relationships and interactions. In the context of gathering together, even over a coffee, there is a chance to interact and practice the discipline of community.
“Long before the church had pulpits and baptistries, she had kitchens and dinner tables…the primary gathering place of the church was the home…something holy happens around the dinner table that will never happen in a sanctuary.”Max Lucado
At the same time, hospitality is not just about having friends into your home. One of the New Testament words actually communicates the idea of brotherly love for the stranger. It is comprised of two Greek words related to ‘philo’, meaning brotherly love, and ‘xeno’, like our idea of xenophobia – a dislike of people from other cultures. So part of our concept of hospitality is to be friendly to the stranger – to the people that we don’t know well, or don’t naturally click, the people that we might consider un-likeable.
There are all sorts of ways to practice hospitality. Michael Frost suggests shaping a habit of hospitality such that one endeavours three hospitable pursuits each week. At least one of these expressions of hospitality should be to someone outside of the church community. It is a helpful way to shape such a habit into our lives. Especially since, hospitality is a really helpful way to pursue the discipline of community.