Summary: Encouraging the church to love our neighbor by our hospitality to guests using Abraham as an model.
Practical Exercise during worship: After singing have congregation greet at least two people they do not know, or have not greeted in a long time (hint: encourage them to get out of their pews if they have to). Give extra time for this.
Last week our focus was on how we can live out the second of the Great Commandments, to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Our particular focus was on demonstrating love to those who are not yet Christian or who may be Christian but are unchurched, they are not connected to Christ’s body the church. We discovered that one of the ways Jesus demonstrated love was by serving, he healed those who were sick, he cast out demons, he spent time with those whom society deemed untouchable: lepers, tax collectors & sinners, he washed his disciple’s feet, and he made the ultimate act of a servant by giving his life so that we can have eternal life. I challenged us to demonstrate God’s love like Jesus by serving our unchurched neighbor, by doing an act of kindness for them. Refuse to accept anything in return, money or otherwise, just do it as a free gift of love. If they ask why you did it, make sure to connect what you did with God, tell them you are doing it just because God loves them. One thing I forgot to tell you last week is to pray for them while you are serving. Pray they receive Jesus Christ, and/or that they get connected to God’s family, the church. I call this pre-evangelism, it is tilling the ground before the seed of God’s word about salvation is shared with someone. If you have not yet accomplished an act of kindness this past week, I encourage you to do so this week. If you were truly blessed, I would also appreciate it if you share your stories with me by writing me a note or an email.
This morning we continue with the theme “love your neighbor as yourself,” only this week we change the focus slightly to demonstrating God’s love in our home and church by the way we welcome visitors, guests, newcomers, or strangers (whatever word we choose to use). Welcoming others in love is what the Bible calls hospitality. The dictionary defines hospitality as:
“The friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers,” or “receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.”
But as Christians hospitality is more than being friendly to guests, it is an extension of our love and care for people. As Christians we are expected to demonstrate God’s love through hospitality, the Bible says: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it (Heb. 13:2, NRSV).”
In our story this morning we learn from Abraham how we should demonstrate hospitality to stranger or guests. One hot day, Abraham had some unexpected guests show up at his doorstep. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing nearby. The Bible tells us these men were not ordinary men, unbeknownst to Abraham these three men were not men at all but the Lord himself with two angels by his side, they disguised their true identity and appeared as three ordinary men passing by.