Here are 5 reasons why we should be thinking: “Who can I have over?”
I have become more and more convinced of this – you eat with people who you have genuine relationship with. That is why it was such a big deal for Jesus to go to the houses of the tax collectors and eat with “sinners”. His eating with them was a sign of his connection to them. Thus, his statement: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Consider also that heaven is likened to a feast and a banquet, while the images of “parched” and “outside the closed door” are used variously to describe hell.
Just on a sociological level, I have become more and more convinced of this. Who do I eat with? I eat naturally with people I enjoy. There is something powerful that God has given us relationally when we share things in eating. I raise this point not so that we exclude people from hospitality, but to help us to realise that eating (or sharing a coffee and cake etc…) is a brilliant way of fast-tracking friendships and deepening long standing ones.
Meal rosters are great things. Not only does the recipient receive sustenance, but the food represents the care, concern and love the provider has for the one in need. They thought about you, spent their own money to purchase ingredients, spent their time making something for you and delivering it to you. On a relational level, this is what being human is about. We were built for relationship with others, and this means mutual interdependence on one another. There will be times of need and times to give, and as we love each other we recognize those times in each other. Jess and I made some meals for our neighbours at a time of great stress in their lives. They don’t go to church and were just blown away with the fact that people who had no vested interest would do such a thing. It was strange, I guess because Jess and I just saw it as a normal thing to do at the time! Since then we have gone to their place for a bbq and are planning our next dinner together.
God has provided wonderfully for us, and at various times provides to us more than we need for ourselves. 2Corinthians 8-9 encourages us to be generous, especially in the excess for the good of others.
So can I encourage you to look at your calendar and purposefully make some decisions for hospitality. Have some people back to your place after church. Or for dinner during the week. Or for afternoon tea on a Saturday afternoon. Look for old friends at church, new comers to church and your neighbours. Over food your will grow in love and care for them.