This is the foundation of the command of Jesus to love our enemies. Bless those who curse you; pray for those who spitefully use you. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t unbelievers do that already?” Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Lk. 14:13-14).
The gospel is a feast that God has spread through the death of His Son. He has loved His enemies, and done good to them. He has given everything away knowing full well that it can never be repaid. And now those who receive the gift of forgiveness, the gift of His love, are the poor, maimed, and blind who sit at His table, strangers who have become His sons and daughters, His family. This is what we call grace.
But we need to be completely honest about the world we live in, and the world Jesus lived in. Frankly, it’s pretty hip and trendy to be into hospitality and mercy work. Some people are really into Justin Bieber. Others are obsessed with Duck Dynasty. And still others have romantic dreams of helping the poor and welcoming strangers into their homes.
So let’s be clear: it was the hospitality of God that got His Son killed. Jesus said, “The son of man came eating and drinking and they say, look a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” It was the hospitality of Jesus that got Him in trouble. And when Jesus calls us to love our enemies, to love the blind and the lame, and to bless those who curse us, Jesus is also saying, “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”
There’s something sexy about the idea of hospitality. There’s something rugged, something attractive. You can almost hear a rad soundtrack playing in the background while you set your table, welcome guests, and eat and drink together.
But reality is not that smooth. Reality is harsh. Reality is betrayal. Reality is being ignored, underappreciated, un-noticed. Reality is misunderstanding. Reality is sickness, lack of sleep, bad attitudes, complaining. Reality is a cross. As Jesus warned his disciples, remember that you are sent as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Tim, the Bible commands husbands to love their wives like Jesus loved the Church and gave Himself for her. This means that you are required by God to imitate God’s hospitality as you love Kaylee. Jesus loved us when we were his enemies, when we hated Him, when there was nothing attractive about us. If you want your home, your family, your table to be a place that welcomes the stranger, loves the fatherless, and comforts the widow, you must be the kind of man that practices that love by bestowing a consistent, gracious, gentle care upon your wife. And let me give you one very specific charge: Do not ever extend hospitality to anyone else if you are not in full fellowship with your wife. How can you pretend to love others if you are not practicing a fierce sacrificial love for your wife? Leave your gift at the altar, be reconciled to your wife quickly, and then go and love the unlovely.
Kaylee, the Bible commands wives to respect and submit to their own husbands. And in Proverbs, it says that an “excellent wife is the crown of her husband” (Pr. 12:4). The word for “excellent” is the word chayil. It means strength, skill, and military might. The same word is used frequently to describe soldiers, warriors, men of valor. But this is not the Bible commending some kind of Xena Warrior Princess motif. The point is that when God gives men and women differing glories, He is simultaneously giving them different kinds of strength and gifts. Kaylee, as you prepare to make a home with Tim, remember that your greatest glory is as his wife, as his crown. Tim needs your respect, your honor. As you bestow that respect on him, you are extending hospitality to him, and you will be preparing to share the same kind of honor with whoever comes through your door, whoever sits at your table. Remember that today God is giving you your first house guest, your first stranger, a fellow sinner in need of grace, remember to welcome him, receive him, honor him. His name is Tim, and we all know he would be lost without you.
Tim and Kaylee, do not forget that today for all the wonderful changes occurring, one fundamental thing remains the same. You belong to Jesus. You have been welcomed into His family, seated at His table, and washed in His blood, accepted and forgiven forever. It is only that security, that safety, that assurance, that sense of belonging that equips you to lay your lives down for one another and for whoever God brings into your life. The hospitality of God is not a selfie on Instagram. It isn’t an edgy lifestyle with a gritty soundtrack playing in the background. The hospitality of God interrupted whole cultures, offended religious leaders, upset the politicians and got a perfect man executed. To imitate the hospitality of Jesus is to take up His cross, to deny yourselves, to lose yourselves, to lose everything for His sake.
But Jesus also says that wisdom is justified by her children. The wisdom of God is vindicated by the resurrection of Jesus and the salvation of countless millions. So the exhortation is this: do not give yourselves to an idea, a romantic notion of hospitality and mercy. Commit yourselves to Jesus, to following Him wherever He leads. He is the hospitality of God, and by His grace you and your home will become that hospitality too.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.