Before we got married my husband and I would dream of having a lovely home together, perfectly tidy and clean, filled to the brim with all of our lovely wedding gifts, matching plates and dishes, cute serving bowls for every food you can imagine, cooking up a storm in the kitchen with the most expensive ingredients we could find and inviting over our most fabulous friends and having a lively dinner party!
We knew this was a bit of a dream. And now, a few months into marriage, I am desiring a simple plate of pasta and a few people around who I can love and serve through my conversation and not the tidiness of our lounge.
You see, there is a huge difference between hospitality and entertaining.
The word hospitality in Greek means ‘love of strangers’, a love for the foreigner, the outsider, the refugee and the immigrant. Through hospitality, these strangers become neighbours, and neighbours become family.
In contrast, entertainment is all about the formal dining room, nice decor, fancy food and matching dishware. Honestly, it writes us all off. It rules out students who share a house and have only plate in the kitchen. It rules out those of us who are culinary challenged. It rules out busy mums who constantly struggle to not have toys and washing strewn all over their dining table. It rules out low-income households who can’t afford to offer a Michelin star dish.
- Entertainment excludes, hospitality includes.
- Entertainment is a performance, hospitality is a service.
- Entertainment draws lines between host and guest, hospitality blurs the lines.
- Entertainment is sporadic, hospitality is a way of life.
- Entertainment is reciprocated, hospitality is generous.
Hospitality takes it a step further, that when we show up at someone’s house with a meal, or visit someone in hospital we are also playing the role of host. You go to contribute, not consume. Because we host the kingdom of God in those acts, we spread out a welcome mat for the kingdom. Jesus visited the houses of others, he received and he gave. He hosted the kingdom of God.
We are commanded to ‘practise hospitality’ (Romans 12:13) because hospitality is expressing the love of the Father to all through tangible acts of love.
There is a mandate on our lives to pursue a heart of hospitality with intense effort, definite purpose and intentionality. You don’t need your own house, a tidy kitchen, amazing culinary skills – you just need a heart to love and a heart to serve:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:8-10
When my husband and I began to embrace the gift of hospitality, we delighted in opening up our home to whoever, whenever. When we didn’t have any milk in the fridge or the carpet hadn’t been vacuumed it communicated to our guest that we were real people that they could have a real conversation with.
Hospitality trumps entertaining any day.
How do you define ‘hospitality’?
What ideas of entertainment do you need to give up?