how a 2-year-old boy with a plastic toy got me thinking about hospitality

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When a 2-year-old kid starts clubbing his 10-year-old sister with a toy golf club, what would you do? I immediately put my arms around her shoulders and drew her nearer to me, away from her cheeky brother. But later that night, I was wondering why didn’t I shield her with my body instead?

I’m no hero and even if I had shielded her with my body, there’s little harm that cute little tyke could do to me with a plastic toy. I simply felt a sense of heartache to see a brother ‘beating’ his sister, no matter how light the blows are on her. She had stood there stoically, being the well-behaved girl I heard she is, and I naturally felt for her.

But Jesus bore real pain in a real crucifixion, suffered real insults and injury, and died a real death in the real world. And he did it all for us. And he did it though I was neither well-behaved, or cute, that I should win his heart. His love for me far surpasses the superficial sympathy I felt for the girl.

Post after post on what I do about hospitality can make it seem like hospitality is for hospitality’s sake. But this is the real reason why I want to be hospitable. Because Jesus paid with his life so that a horrible sinner like me may be welcomed in his Father’s family.

This picture of our glorious redemption is painted vividly by Paul in Ephesians 2:12-13, 19:

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ… So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

And God has always been consistently concerned for the foreigners, the strangers and the aliens. He instructed Israel that the aliens among them should rest on Sabbath too, should judged fairly in a court case and should not be bullied because of their foreigner status. (Exodus 23:12; Deuteronomy 1:16; Jeremiah 22:3 ESV)

In short, God is telling Israel to love the strangers among them because God took care of them when they were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:34 ESV) He also told them to treat them like one of their own, that is not to care for them like they were temporary visitors, but as part of God’s chosen nation.

The same is true for us today as Christians — as God had paid a high price to make us one of his own, we reflect his love by extending hospitality to others, especially those in need of friendship and shelter. And most of all, we welcome people into our homes with the hope that God will make them one of his own too.

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