What is Christian Hospitality? – The Gospel Coalition Africa

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The word hospitality is a translation from the Greek word philoxenia, which is a compound word meaning love (philo) of strangers (xenia). This love of strangers could be of course anyone: a friend or an enemy, a widow or an orphan, a trafficked woman or someone who is street-involved, a refugee or a landed immigrant, a foster child, or a disabled person, a middle-class neighbour or an apartment dweller beside you in your building.
That means then that for a Christian to show hospitality to whomever the Lord puts on our path it must be exempt from xenophobia, racism, ethnocentrism, classism, pride, or prejudice.
And the reason is simple. When we seek to understand what Christian hospitality means we realize that the act of love, unconditional love at that, is the driving ‘force’ behind the practice of hospitality. That is to say, it is the love of strangers that defines Christian hospitality and this love finds its source in God himself. Indeed, one cannot understand the gift of hospitality without first understanding the gospel.
For a Christian to show hospitality to whomever the Lord puts on our path it must be exempt from xenophobia, racism, ethnocentrism, classism, pride, or prejudice.
In short, we serve a divinely hospitable God who embodies the meaning of hospitality. Thus, in the gospels, you find a Saviour who daily practiced hospitality. He showed untold compassion for the physically sick and the spiritually impoverished, the demon-possessed and the blind, the crippled and the poor.
He welcomed vulnerable moms and blessed their babies.
He went to find the outcasts in Samaria and Sidon and welcomed them into his Kingdom. He chastised those who were inhospitable, the Pharisees and Sadducees while giving hope to those they oppressed.
But it doesn’t end there because the gospel is much more than the good life that Jesus led. The gospel drives us to the cross and there we find the raison d’etre of Christian hospitality.
On the cross, Jesus revealed his love for strangers, even enemies of God, by taking upon himself the penalty owed us all.
On the cross, Jesus revealed his love for strangers, even enemies of God, by taking upon himself the penalty owed us all.
The greatest act of hospitality known to mankind is Christ’s death in our place because through it we are invited into fellowship with the Father in the paradise of God.
Therefore, unless we understand by faith the deep kindness of God’s love for us in Christ that “while we were still enemies Christ died for us (Rom 5:8),” we will fail to love the stranger or foreigner that lives or works beside us. Indeed, “We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Our thanks to Pastor Paul Martin for suggesting the need for a primer on these issues, and for constructive suggestions on an early version of the document. Questions What is…

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