This past summer, a college student stayed with us for a few weeks. It was truly a great experience, and when he left, we were sad to see him go. But his time with us was a reminder of what hospitality really looks like. When not at work, he was with us all day, every day. We didn’t have as much private time as a family. We spent more money on groceries. And I once had to run downstairs at five in the morning because he’d accidentally set off our home alarm.
Making room for anyone is tough because, as we learned with this college student we hosted, we really like our personal space and comfort. But biblical hospitality is about more than sharing a meal or inviting friends over. It is the work of making room in our lives for others. True hospitality is a posture of charity toward the poor, of welcome toward the displaced, and of humility and gentleness toward the hurting.
When we think of making room for others in our lives, we should remember that the most important community we have is the one we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Through Jesus, we’ve been grafted into a family that supersedes our earthly families. Christ’s blood outlasts the blood you share with your mother or brother. So, our closest community should be our brothers and sisters in Christ, with whom we gather regularly in our local church.
In our culture, it’s easy to treat the most important things in life like a buffet. We pick and choose what we want and what makes us happy; we don’t commit to anything we don’t want on our plate. But to make room for other Christians, we have to partake in the whole spread. Most of us make plenty of time for ourselves, our friends, and our family, but are we willing to make room for our local church family?
Acts 4 describes the early church this way: “Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common” (v.32). Here, “everything in common” means that they shared everything, not just a hobby or two. In other words, the early church held the things of this world loosely so that none of the brothers and sisters would go without. We are called to do the same.
We are joined together by Christ with people who are not always like us, who don’t share our interests, and whose flaws or idiosyncrasies can sometimes drive us up the wall. But these divisions are superficial. In the Church, we are one body, the body of Christ. And so, while living in biblical community can sometimes be tough, it is also the healthiest way to live and essential to following our Savior. After all, just as He died for us, He also died for the person in the pew next to you. We are called to love those Jesus loves.
Written by Brandon D. Smith