By Alli Hill
At the start of this year, I wrote about having a heart for hospitality and my desire to live intentionally within the community in which God has placed me. I felt convicted of the need to open my home to others and set out to do just that. Over the past six months, however, I’ve come to realize that it is very possible to open up your home to others without truly opening up your life. Biblical hospitality is centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When we think of hospitality, most of us probably imagine hosting a dinner party or cooking meals for neighbors and friends. Across cultures, food seems to play a vital role in welcoming others in and showing tangible love. As a Baptist preacher’s daughter turned Baptist preacher’s wife, I know a thing or two about loving others through food. However, I have come to realize that biblical hospitality will not only involve opening our homes, but also our lives and our mouths to share the good news of Christ.
In their helpful book, The Simplest Way to Change to World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life, pastors Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements share this:
“The end goal of hospitality is not that you simply host people in your home as much as you use your home as a place to display and speak the gospel…Our mission, as ambassadors of Christ, is to share the good news of Jesus’ work through His life, death, burial, and resurrection. This is the true hope for the world. As a result, we can’t keep from speaking the gospel to those we love—or at least we should not be able to.”
While I can offer food and our home to others with relative ease, the Lord has exposed in my heart a sinful fear of man when it comes to gospel-centered conversations and evangelism. When I committed myself to open our home for the sake of Christ at the beginning of this year, I never expected halfway through I would wind up convicted for not opening my mouth for Him.
Hospitality simply to feed others a well-prepared meal and enjoy good times together is fine, but it is not enough. If our main goal in opening up our lives and homes isn’t in line with the command to make disciples, we have missed the point. I’ve hidden behind many neighborly banana bread drop offs rather than boldly proclaiming the life-changing message of Christ. True missional living centers on the gospel, and it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that drives everything else we do.
Biblical hospitality shares with others out of the overflow of our own hearts and possessions. Everything we have is given to us from our Heavenly Father (1 Chronicles 29:14, Romans 11:36), and we are simply called to steward it well in the time He gives us on this earth.
In Jen Schmidt’s new book, Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, she writes, “Life-giving hospitality is never about us. It’s a journey to surrender control, to present our seemingly insignificant offering to Him. It’s about stewarding the one thing before us well, becoming an unlikely messenger for the gospel, and pointing it all back to Him.”
Biblical hosts will make much of Christ and less of themselves. It is my prayer that the more others get to know me, the more they will see Jesus. I want the aroma of Christ to fill my home more than the scent of anything I could bake. I would rather feed the souls of others on the riches of Christ than any meal that will later leave them hungry again.
Loving others and making disciples are at the core of Christianity. While I do plan to continue with those banana bread drop offs and meals, I also want the heart of everything I’m doing to be about the gospel. This is the greatest gift I have ever been given. The saving grace I’ve freely received compels me to offer that same gift to all as I’m given the opportunity. I open my home so my guests will know His heart. By sharing the gospel that defines me, I am sharing my life.
So, let’s host dinner parties, small groups, overnight guests, and potlucks. Let’s open up our homes and lives to others, but let us never forget to also open our mouths and proclaim the saving grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Alli is married to Gentry Hill and they have four children, Hadley, Dempsey, Emery, and Levi. They live in Poteau, Oklahoma, where her husband serves as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Poteau. Alli hopes to minister to other new moms while continuing to learn how to mother her children in a Christ-honoring way, all while being a keeper of her home. Alli enjoys hospitality, painting, home renovations, & all things domestic. She serves as managing editor for Missional Motherhood.