When was the last time you ate with an unbeliever?

While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples (Matt 9:10, HCSB).

I am in Orlando right now preparing to speak at a conference on “gospel hospitality.” Sounds like a buzzword, right? It can be, but like all catch phrases, there is a reason this one exists.

For many Christians the relationship between hospitality and the gospel is lost. When was the last time you shared a meal with a lost person? I am not talking about wolfing down leftovers in the break room at work. When was the last time you purposefully invited lost people to your house for a meal with the intention of sharing the gospel? For many who read this, I imagine it has been a while… or perhaps never.

We are a society of individuals. Today’s world finds us more connected than ever before and still somehow more isolated than in the past. We have thousands of online friends and no real relationships. It is an interesting paradox.

When we do know people, they always seem to be just like us. People have always gravitated to like kind, but the splintering of American society today allows for an unprecedented level of specialization in who you choose for relationship. Do not believe me? Then browse this website for a few minutes.

This usually means Christians often struggle to identify any lost people in their life. If you are a Christian, this should be embarrassing. However, it is a lot more common than most realize. That’s why 20 percent of unbelievers in North America do not “personally know” a single Christian.

And yet, no matter how many excuses we may mount in our defense, Jesus ate with the lost. In fact, he did it all the time. So much so that Robert Karris can write, “In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.”

We must keep in mind the centrality of our mission to proclaim the gospel. Sure, we are all busy. Sure, we struggle to meet new people. But when was the last time you had a lost person over for dinner?

 

4 Comments

  1. […] Local churches have an unprecedented opportunity to speak to their community, but it will take intentionality. When the culture around us starts crying out for community, we must make sure the gospel is authentically displayed. For most of us, this means changing our habits. Roberts is right that our communities are set up for isolation, but Christians have a compelling reason to push against this. We must put the gospel community on display to the greater culture around us. This means local church members loving one another well in front of others, and it means meeting our neighbors. […]

    November 11, 2015
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  2. […] Learn to contextualize. I would go so far as to say the purpose of learning their religion and culture is so that proper contextualization can take place. Contextualization is the means through which we make our communication understandable to someone from another culture. This is about more than language. If you have ever had someone make you mad without saying a single word, then you understand that communication includes our actions, mannerisms, and rituals. In Lori’s article, the thrust of contextualization appears to be hospitality. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to learn to show hospitality in a culturally appropriate way. In fact, the gospel and hospitality have a lot to do with one another. […]

    December 1, 2016
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