Sunday, February 02, 2014

What About The Sheep and Goats (Hospitality)

 I stalled in Matthew 25. I've spent more time pondering, thinking and journaling. 

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What about THE.sheep.and.goats? I wrestled with this Saturday and Sunday and this morning again. I couldn't move on quite yet.  I don't like the picture of Jesus sending some to inherit His kingdom (25:34); others to eternal fire (25:41).

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me (25:35-35)

....To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me. (25:40) 

I get the big point of Jesus being fully capable of separating the sheep and the goats at the end of time. I get that He WILL do this. I know the main point of this passage is that I don't have to do this - He will. 

But HOSPITALITY screamed at me in this passage. This passage displays the strength, beauty and importance of Biblical Hospitality. 

I thought I had written out my notes on the study of Hospitality I did in the summer of 2011. Evidently, I didn't. I led a workshop at a conference and have spoken to a couple of women's groups - but never blogged it.   Humph...I can't just link. ::snort:: 

I cannot possibly share all my convictions this a.m. but this is what  I wrote in 2011, "look at the CONTEXT of where we find the word in the New Testament. Hospitality is a basic virtue of the Christian life (Rm 12:13). Hospitality is a qualification of church leaders (listed before teaching) and older women (I Tim 3:2, Titus 1:8). Hospitality is a practice we are to cultivate as we prepare for the end times (I Peter 4:9). Answering the question of WHY it's a basic of Christian life, a leadership qualification and preparation for the end times leads to the formation of a Biblical Theology of Hospitality."

The Greek word translated "Hospitality" is Philoxenos (Strongs 5283). It means LOVING STRANGERS...taking care of the needs of STRANGERS.

It's what God did for US. He sought out strangers, met our needs, loved us, invited us into His family and saved us in the process.  I'm convinced Biblical Hospitality is crucial to evangelism - to fulfilling the Great Commission,  to authentic community, and  to discipleship.

We've redefined "hospitality" to mean doughnuts or cookies after a service, a monthly potluck, inviting friends into our home.....what we term hospitality is most often Christian fellowship. We are called to fellowship. But we are also called to meet the needs of STRANGERS. (This is fairly easy when you are new to a location and everyone is a stranger. LOL).

Hospitality may involve inviting others into your home. OR it  may look more like greeting the newcomer at Bible study, showing a new mom where the changing table is at the church, giving food to the beggar at the corner, taking clothes to the girls rescued from sex trafficking, than dinner and games at my house on Friday night or opening my home for a small group. Again - we ARE called to Christian fellowship.

Read the verses again - these believers are being rewarded because they've met the needs of strangers with which they've intersected. That's Biblical Hospitality.  In doing so, they did it for Jesus.

Biblical Hospitality is important. But - important enough to go to hell if you miss it? WHAT!!!!  Stay with me. I've pondered this.

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Jesus won't send one to hell because they didn't practice hospitality or  didn't do the right works. A man is sent to hell because of his heart - did he believe (which involves following and action in the Greek definition)? Those who did not practice hospitality are goats.

Sheep follow their shepherd. Jesus met the needs of strangers. If we believe Jesus, we will  follow Jesus, we will imitate him. We will  begin to meet the needs of strangers.  These men did not follow Jesus into the world.  In this passage, actions simply reveal  their heart; their very nature/species.

We will act and look like Jesus in our circles of influence, not out of compulsion but out of gratitude! Like Isaiah in Isaiah 6, we recognize the great mercy and grace given to us. We see our desperate, sinful condition and we are undone. We mourn our messiness. BUT... God cleanses and purifies our mess.  Out of our deep humility and gratitude, we see the need around us and  the love of Christ compels us to respond.  "Here I am - send me."  I will go. I will be used to meet others in their mess with the love of Jesus. I will live as  a sheep following my Shepherd (John 10).

Yes, there will be a great reward for practicing Biblical Hospitality....and God doesn't label a man a goat and send him hell for not passing out enough blankets...our actions do reveal our hearts.

And BTW I STILL don't like the picture of some being sent to eternal fire - which I am convicted must motivate me to love more courageously in the future.

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

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