“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2, NIV)
During the funeral service for a dear friend and early mentor of mine, her former pastor commented on how my friend and her husband were models of hospitality.
“Hospitality is inviting someone to inhabit your space,” the pastor said. I had not heard a more simple yet profound definition of the word “hospitality” before — or since.
The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us to invite strangers to inhabit our space. Our spaces are usually cultivated, comfortable, and secure. Yet, the stranger often enjoys none of those benefits because he is often far, far from his own home.
It is through the practice of hospitality that we expose ourselves to the possibility of serving one of God’s angels; the possibility of making a new friend; and the certainty of being obedient to God. – Luther
“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. (2 Timothy 2:3-6, NIV)
It is an inextricable part of Christian discipleship. As Paul explains in what was one of his last letters before his death while in captivity and awaiting trial in Rome: A soldier must focus on the mission; athletes must compete according to the rules of the game; and the hardworking farmer reaps the benefits of his labor. In other words: No cross; no crown.
No reasonable person seeks persecution and suffering, and the Christian disciple is no exception here. However, while others try everything within their power to avoid, evade, and to escape pain and suffering; we “please our commanding officer” by joining Him in suffering for truth and righteousness; and we are an example for others of what ought to be, when we share in the sufferings of others.
If others seek “happiness” in the dogged pursuit of a life without suffering; the Christian disciple knows that enduring joy and purpose is found only through suffering in fellowship with Christ.
Whether you are a soldier, an athlete, a farmer, a student, a merchant. . . reflect on the what it means to share the sufferings of others, and the Lord will give you insight. – Luther