Be hospitable to each other without secretly wishing you hadn’t got to be! (JBP)
In our usage, ‘hospitality’ is the art of inviting friends to a meal. The Bible sees it differently. The word so translated means caring for a stranger. Providing needy guests with whatever they require.
When urged to be hospitable, we are urged to have open hearts and, if possible, open homes to those not in our existing circle of friends. In biblical times, travellers and strangers often relied on their being welcomed by those they didn’t know previously.
Some who boast about how hospitable they are need to take care that their hospitality more reflects the biblical meaning. Putting on a great meal and showing off your trophy home doesn’t qualify as hospitality. It is sociability, and even a bit of egotism.
Churches which proclaim how friendly they are need also to be aware that the real test of their openness is how they treat the visitor or stranger, not how chummy they are to their best friends in the church circle. Can newcomers break into that circle or are they frozen out by our passionate ‘friendships’?
Our word ‘hospital’ derives from this meaning of hospitality. A place where those in need are cared for. Our churches or our homes can become types of ‘hospitals’ where those who need a safe and welcoming place can find just that.