This article was published in the following newspapers:
Norris City Banner – Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Ridgway News – Thursday, May 29, 2008
Gallatin County Democrat – Thursday, May 29, 2008
Did you know that God commands you to invite other people over for dinner? It is something God wants all of His people to do regularly.
The apostle Peter said that we must have “hospitality one to another without grudging” (1 Peter 4:9).
The apostle Paul said, “Love must be sincere. . . . Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. . . . Practice hospitality.” (Romans 12:9-13)
The dinner table is where families and friends come together in unity. We share food, stories, and love. We share in each others’ lives. In strong, godly families, some people’s most cherished memories are of times spent around the table.
Throughout Scripture, God invites His people to His royal dinner table. In the Garden of Eden, He provided the Tree of Life. In Genesis 14, God sent a great priest-king to bring bread and wine to Abraham, to celebrate an early version of the Lord’s Supper. In Genesis 31:54, Jacob and his friends ate in the presence of God on a mountain. And in Exodus 24, God invited over 70 people to eat in His presence:
“Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: and they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink” (Exodus 24:9–11).
Later, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, so that Christians could dine at his table regularly. In Christ’s presence, we partake of His bread and wine every week, when we come together to worship Him.
And of course we all look forward to the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).
God leads by example. He invites us to feast at His table, so He commands us to show hospitality, and to invite people to dine at our tables as well. He is simply asking us to behave as He does. This is how relationships are built, and how friendships are deepened.
Hospitality is also one of God’s specific requirements for pastors. Twice in Scripture, God commands pastors to be hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). A man is not fit to pastor a church, if he merely preaches. To be a pastor approved by God, he must regularly invite people over to his house for dinner, in order to share both food and fellowship. By doing this, he keeps in close fellowship with his church members. Also, he gets to know many new people this way, and is better able to bring them into the church.
God does not only want our tables to be surrounded with friends and family. He also commands us this: “Do not forget to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels without realizing it” (Hebrews 13:2). Is your church growing? If not, then you might want to ask yourself, “Am I regularly inviting new people over to my home?” If you do not regularly invite new people into your own house, then do not be surprised when those same people decline your invitation to the house of God.
A healthy church is also a hospitable church. When God’s people invite one another to dinner, their fellowship deepens. When they invite new people to dinner as well, the church grows. Just as food is for the life of the body, so the dinner table is for the life of the church.
~ Joseph M. Gleason