In the ancient world, people travelled by foot or on animals. When you’re travelling on foot or on a donkey, you can’t bring much with you.
I’m not talking about bringing your golf clubs, eight different chargers for all your devices, board games, etc. I’m talking about necessities like water, food, and clothing.
Furthermore, you ran the risk of encountering bandits on these ancient roads, so minimalism was your friend. Therefore, sojourners depended on the hospitality of strangers as they travelled through villages. Without strangers’ hospitality, sojourners would not be able to survive. Hence, a failure to provide hospitality to someone passing through your village would have brought you great shame.
God taught that hospitality was important and commanded Israel to be hospitable: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 19:33-34).
We have now spent enough time in this COVID reality to have shaped new habits that lead to cultural change. I suspect that some of us have grown used to the socially distant lifestyle. Most of us have closed our doors to outsiders for over a year, but I hope that we do not adopt isolation as our new way of life.
Romans 12:13 teaches us to “seek to show hospitality,” which means we ought to seek opportunities to show hospitality. Whether it is by inviting people into our homes, going for socially distanced walks, or virtual hangouts, we must find safe and creative ways to be hospitable. Pastor John Piper claims that hospitality is not “a once-a-year thing at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but a constant attitude and practice. Our homes should stand constantly ready for strategic hospitality.”
My prayer for our city is that we would not embrace a habit of unfriendliness and isolation, but that we would intentionally pursue a lifestyle of biblical hospitality to share the love of Jesus with others.