REDISCOVERING THE ANCIENT PATH—Week of May 2, 2021
Offer Hospitality from the Heart: Rom. 12:13
We are in Week 13 of our examination of Benedict of Nursia’s rules for Christian formation. This week we’ll look at Rule 4.26: Offer Hospitality from the Heart. To understand this rule and the verse that is cited in support of the rule, it is important to note the greater context in which it is found. The book of Romans is commonly considered the greatest theological book in the New Testament. Chapter 12 marks a stark transition in the book. While the first 11 chapters provide Paul’s great discourse on theology, Chapter 12 begins Paul’s explanation of how all that great theology should play out in our lives practically. Paul starts off by imploring believers to present themselves as a living sacrifice to God. All of our dreams, all of our identity, and everything we do is to be laid on the altar for God to do with it as he sees fit. Because God has proven himself faithful and has sacrificed so much to redeem us and reconcile us to himself, he deserves nothing less. Paul goes on to call such sacrifice what some translations call “proper worship” and other translations call “our reasonable service.” Both translations are correct. To the ancient mind, service and worship were synonymous. Service was worship and worship was service.
Paul goes on to flesh out what being a living sacrifice should look like, and one key superlative of believers who offer their lives as living sacrifices is to be given to hospitality. The Greek word translated as “hospitality” here is literally “love for strangers.” The word that precedes it in the text carries the connotation of pursuing something eagerly and earnestly or endeavoring to acquire something. And I think it is with this backdrop that we can see why showing hospitality is so important to God.
As we’ve seen time and again on our journey down this ancient path, our call to follow Christ often involves us taking actions because such actions remind us what God has done for us and reflect his character to the world. Hospitality is no different. In Ephesians 2, Paul tells us that we were once strangers, alienated from God and others. But God showed hospitality to us by reconciling us to himself through Jesus Christ. More than that, he has brought us near to him and to others—an act we could not accomplish on our own. No longer are we strangers and outcasts with no hope. Now we are members of the household of God.
So, it is with a grateful heart that we have the privilege of showing hospitality to others. We have now been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, taking God’s hospitality to a world without hope. What would it look like if we took this ministry literally? What would it look like if showed hospitality to others as God showed hospitality to us? What if we pursued strangers for the opportunity to show love to them? I believe that if the church were to embrace this calling, it would radically change our outlook and our impact on our world.
- Consider for a moment how the ancients equated service and worship. What about you? Are those two things you would have tied together, or did you view them separately? What would it look like in your life for worship and service to be considered inseparable?
- How does hospitality reflect the heart of God? How could you personally show hospitality to strangers?
- How might the Church developing a spirit of hospitality impact our culture?