What comes to mind when you hear the word “missions”? Do you imagine leaving Singapore to live in a foreign country and share the gospel with unfamiliar peoples, cultures and surroundings? Perhaps past or upcoming mission trips come to mind. The reality, though, is that not all of us are called to be full-time overseas missionaries, nor can we be on mission trips all the time. Does this mean we cannot contribute to mission work in the period between mission trips? Not at all!
If the mission is to share the gospel message of salvation through God’s Son Jesus Christ to as many people as possible, then doing missions is not limited to taking the gospel out to those in far-flung places. Bringing people into where we are to hear and experience the gospel can also be considered missions. This means we need not wait until the next mission trip; we can already start doing missions now, and right in the comfort of our homes.
Opening our homes to fellow believers and non-believers alike can be an effective platform for getting the gospel message across. But for our hospitality to become Christian hospitality, I suggest two elements that should be present. First, we need to host people with the intentional aim of moving them to the right, that is, to bring them closer to God. Second, it needs to be done with a selfless and other-centred love. Putting the two together, it means placing far more importance on our guests leaving feeling encouraged in the Christian faith (or open to it, for non-believing guests) than having them think of us as wonderful hosts.
That is not to say we should not strive to be wonderful hosts. Instead, we strive to be wonderful Christian hosts. No longer is hospitality about a tidy place, showcasing your culinary skills, or exhibiting the latest technology or fashionable furnishings in your home. These motivations seek promotion of ourselves and our homes. Rather, as Christian hosts we are primarily concerned with building relationships, and meeting the practical and spiritual needs of our guests, even doing so at our own expense (e.g. being paiseh about our messy house, or rushing home on a weekday evening because that is your guests’ only available time).
A key part of Christian hospitality is about providing a space where people can feel comfortable to share their (non-Christian) beliefs, joys, struggles, and burdens. Compared to meeting outside among bystanders, a home is more conducive for open sharing. This is especially so if we as hosts set the tone by showing genuine interest in people and their views, even if they are contrary to the Bible, and by celebrating their joys and supporting them in their struggles. When we do so, relationships are deepened and strengthened. We display that God is indeed interested for people to come to Him just as they are. In addition, knowing our non-believing friends better also opens our eyes to see how the gospel can be shared with them more effectively (akin to how Paul used his knowledge of the Athenians to preach the gospel to them in Acts 17).
As we get to know people and their needs better, we can show other-centred love by meeting these needs. On a practical level, this could be as simple as being mindful of someone’s food preferences or allergies when having a meal with them. On the spiritual level, it could be showing sensitivity to someone’s hurt or struggle, encouraging them through the reading of God’s Word, and praying with or for them. This could even be done with non-believers. As the host, you can offer to give thanks for the food if they do not mind, which opens an avenue to share about the God who graciously provides both materially and spiritually.
Christian hospitality is not just for those with homes. For those without our own homes, we can and should see how we can also meet the practical and spiritual needs of our hosts! Would they appreciate you taking the children out for the day? Do they need help preparing food and showing selfless love to guests when they are hosting non-believers? What struggles might they be going through that you can pray with them about? Ultimately, Christian hospitality is about living out the gospel in homes and inviting others over to share and experience the selfless love of Jesus Christ. May we be encouraged today to share the gospel in our homes with fellow believers and non-believers alike through our Christian hospitality.