Skip to main content

Theology of Hospitality

I'm preaching on Acts 16:11-15 this morning, and although I think the main point of the passage is Paul's multiple boundary crossing acceptance of Lydia, it's got me thinking too about hospitality - a notable subtheme of Luke/Acts.  here is a quick sketch of a biblical theology of hospitality, I'm sure more could be added, please do so in the comments!

Creation - In the biblical account of creation God is portrayed as the divine host making a home for all earth's creatures and providing them with food.

Israel - In the desert God hosts his people on their pilgrimage, providing water, bread and meat.  At the same time he teaches them to host him, by providing a tabernacle and sacrifices they play host to God.

Incarnation - Jesus' first act is to be a guest of someone else, and throughout his ministry as an itinerant preacher he is dependent on the hospitality of others, his gratuitous "guesting" brings him criticism (friend of sinners) but was a central part of his message.  But in the feeding of the 5,000 and 4,000, in the miraculous provision of fish or even a room to share passover Jesus reveals himself as host, echoing both Gods hosting in creation and in the exodus.  In giving himself upon the cross Jesus offers us his own body (John 6, 1 Cor 11) and in his triumph over death prepares a home for all God's people to live as God's guests (John 14, Rev 21).

Eschatology - Isaiah 25 promises a divinely provided feast for all nations, while Matt 22 uses the image of a wedding feast with God as host to describe the kingdom.

Ecclesiology - So as God's people a key spiritual discipline is to image, enact and embody both God's hospitality and God's condescension as guest, in sharing bread and wine, in opening our homes to strangers, in being willingly dependent on the hospitality of others (esp in mission), in giving thanks for the gifts of creation and in sharing them with an open hand.

6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
   a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
   the best of meats and the finest of wines.
7 On this mountain he will destroy
   the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
 8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
   from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
   from all the earth.
            The LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25)

Comments

  1. I really like that, Jonathan. I trust the sermon went well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. heh, the sermon got cut short but was probably the better for it. Didn't get onto the subject of hospitality at all really, so all the more glad i shared it here. Thanks for the encouragement Craig and Ali :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Challenging... particularly the section about ecclesiology. Another reminder to share our homes with others. I liked it.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why Dr Charles Stanley is not a biblical preacher

Unusually for me I was watching the tele early on Sunday morning and I caught an episode of Dr Charles Stanley preaching on his television program. Now I know this guy has come under some criticism for his personal life, and that is not unimportant, but it is also not something i can comment on, not knowing the facts. His preaching is however something I can comment on, at least the one sermon I did watch.

He started off by reading 2 Timothy 1:3-7. Which is a passage from the Bible, so far so good. He then spent the next 30 minutes or so talking about his mum and what a great example of a Christian mother she was. Now nothing he said or suggested was wrong, but none of it actually came from scripture, least of all the scripture he read from at the beginning. It was a lovely talk on how Stanley's mother raised him as a Christian despite considerable difficulties and it contained many useful nuggets of advice on raising Christian kids. All very nice, it might have made a nice…

The false link between suicide and mental illness

One characteristic of human society is the tendency to keep doing something over and over again despite it not working. One example would be our approach to incarcerating criminals to punish them instead of rehabilitating them, compounding their trauma and making it harder for them to live productive law-abiding lives when they get out. But this is the "common-sense" approach, the intuitive human response to the failings of others, punish them and they wont dare do it again. It has never worked, ever, but let's keep doing it. Secular society is screwed because it cannot comprehend that its vision is blurred by sin and therefore knee-jerk, common sense solutions are usually destructive and counter-productive.

So it is with our response to suicide. To kill yourself must be the response of the weak minded and sick - so the thinking goes - so to combat rising suicide we treat individuals medically. Yet suicide is a perfectly rational response to a world as broken as ours and…

The Addictive Power of End Times Speculation

The mighty Rhett Snell has picked up his blog again (I wonder how long he'll last this time), check out his theory on why people get so into annoyingly unbiblical end times nonsense.

I think that where codes-and-calendars end times theology is dangerous, is that it can give a sense of false growth. We read a theory online, or hear it from some bible teacher, and we come to think that we have mastered an area of our faith. A bit like levelling up in a computer game, or Popeye after he’s eaten some spinach. At worst, we begin to believe that we’ve taken a step that other Christians have not; that we’ve entered an elite class of Christianity.