Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

Be Hospitable With One Another

by Dick Wulf | Course Two

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As much as they can, Christians are asked by God in Scripture to regularly invite other Christians into their homes and their activities to show them that God loves and values them. Romans 12:13 admonishes us this way: “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

The kingdom of heaven is about relationships – with God and with the other citizens of eternal society. The fantastic thing is that we can prepare for those relationships now and begin our lives in heaven with advanced abilities with people.

By opening our lives to other Christians through hospitality and also accepting their hospitality, we can be like Jesus and serve the needs of others. Hospitality provides the setting for implementing the Togethers, each one empowering biblical relationships for changing our spirits to be like Jesus and also benefitting ourselves in heaven.

Hospitality extended to a wide variety of Christian individuals, couples and families will create the need for more spiritual growth through the various Togethers. Without obeying the instruction to show hospitality and open our lives and homes, Christians will cut themselves off from vast opportunities to extend and receive love through the Togethers, to change more to be like Jesus, and to prepare for heaven.

If we really want to get ready for the variety of relationships in heaven, let us invite Christians into our homes from different cultures and economic status. The stranger the better if we want to be able to enjoy sitting and talking in heaven to a Mongol believer from the year 600. God has created many different kinds of people. We want to recognize God’s creativity in the different kinds of friends we will have in heaven.

If in heaven we are going to understand with empathy thousands of marvelous stories of being rescued by the love and intervention of Christ, we must this side of death experience first hand the struggles of others. Do we want to be limited to only understanding struggles common to our own situations? To understand suffering that will not come our way, we might hear about it if we invite believers not like us into our homes. We can ask people into our homes and share life experiences now for better understanding of the endless wonderful stories of God’s rescue we will later hear in heaven throughout eternity. It all boils down to this: we need to practice a wide range of hospitality now here on earth if we want the best enjoyment of people in heaven.
Although heaven’s physical characteristics will be fantastic, it is relationships that will be the most exciting. How marvelous will it be to love and interact with so many different people from so many different cultures across the centuries, people whom God has loved and rescued. We will be fascinated by learning about lives lived in different circumstances with different traditions and ways of looking at things.

Are we not amazed now when we hear of God’s saving someone’s life, when death or disaster was more likely? Think of the many healings Jesus performed that we learned of in the Bible. Aren’t they exciting? Don’t we wish we could hear of more such miracles?

Well, in heaven we are going to hear thousands, no, millions of such true stories of God’s grace. And it will never get boring. Hearing each story from the person herself or himself, possibly with angels adding in otherwise unknown details, will keep our eyes wide with wonder. That is, if we have prepared for such interest in people different from ourselves.

Hospitality is a duty. Such a small percentage of Christians practice biblical hospitality. It must be increased many times over. To treat this assignment from the Lord superficially is to hold back the work of God in people’s lives.

No one can open their arms as wide as God does to welcome people to Himself. Therefore, to whatever extent we allow the Holy Spirit to stretch out our arms to take others more deeply into our lives through hospitality, we worship because we reflect back to God something of His own character.

It is the job of hospitality to continually create stronger ties between more and more believers. The more Christians are tied to one another, the more we can stand strong in doing the will of God in the world. To build a strong presence of Christianity in our faithless culture, we Christians need to spread a wide net of hospitality to one another. We must not limit hospitality to those Christians we like or are drawn toward. We need to see that every Christian is wrapped in hospitality and empowered for ministry through the Togethers.

There are people who are truly lonely. There are people who are not sure they are worthwhile. More “two-or-three-with-Jesus friendship groups, families and marriages” should invite those people not sure they are acceptable or likeable to a hospitality event. There they can show the necessity of ministering to one another through the various Togethers of Scripture. They can be shown that they have many things to offer others. They can then be encouraged to develop their own spiritual friendships in which they can walk together with Jesus.

Hospitality is so essential to biblical relationships that it must be far more than entertainment, even if fun is a part of the time together. There are spiritual things to do at some point during each time of fellowship. Every little bit of implementing various Togethers is important for the Holy Spirit to use in transforming everyone a little more into the image of Jesus.

After “love”, “availability” is the key word in hospitality. We must be aware that fun and entertainment can squeeze out availability for the things that count more. Biblical hospitality is centered on God and His transforming work through Christian relationships. This will lead to using some of the time during hospitality for helping one another advance into the image of Jesus.

For example, if couples play Scrabble, someone who condemns himself or herself for losing should come away having been helped to see that there was something he or she did that was far more important than doing well in the game – his or her spiritual contributions to the time together. Perhaps the person ministered to someone through one of the Togethers or told of a difficult situation that she or he handled the way Jesus would have, with forgiveness and compassion.

When the living room is filled with both Christians and unbelievers, then hospitality would likely take two directions. Christians would testify in a friendly way of life with Christ in their daily lives with the hope that the non-Christians might see the transforming power of Jesus. But, the believers would still make the occasional spiritual contribution to one another of a Together and empower this promise of Jesus regarding their identity with Him: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” That is John 13:35.

If in such mixed spiritual company an unbeliever is unhappy with losing at Scrabble or makes negative comments about himself or herself, he or she can be told that the Bible says that many things are more important than knowing a lot of words. But, if it is a Christian, another Christian can comment with authority that the importance of walking with Christ, not winning games, is of eternal value. In this way, the unbeliever is shown a better way to view life from God’s viewpoint, but the Christian is helped in his or her sanctification, which will show the unbeliever how Christians extend love to one another.

Thus, hospitality is not merely being friendly to others. Hospitality is extending who you are as well as your private space to others. It is like opening the arms of your life and giving a welcoming hug.

Hospitality is very important for making all Christians feel a part of the body of Christ as persons, not merely as church members. It is necessary for all Christians to frequently open their homes and activities to a variety of other Christians, especially those not already included or popular. When a Christian friendship group or a Christian family or a Christian married couple takes someone without many close Christian friends into their home for a meal, that person will feel valued and important.

God wants each one of His people to know that he or she is valuable to Him and important for the vitality of the church as a whole. He uses us and our hospitality to get that point across. Too many Christians do not feel valued or important. Done with love, which is self-denial for the good of others, hospitality proclaims God’s value of each Christian. It is the more personal hospitality in homes that shows Christian individuals, couples and families that they are important. Loneliness dissolves. Those invited feel worthwhile to others. Christians who feel important to other Christians are empowered to themselves extend love and good deeds.

Contrast the effect of a family taking another family to lunch after church at a restaurant with inviting them into their home for a meal and sharing the family’s private space. The first gives those invited a meal, and the cost of love is money. The second gives the intimacy of the warmth of the family’s home. Such love costs the effort of cleaning the house and preparing a meal. It conveys that those invited are very valuable. And, it also provides the privacy for more confidential conversation as well as the sharing of the children’s toys and play environment. In some ways dining in a restaurant is more entertainment and sharing a meal in a home is more hospitality.

Including others where they can see us as we really are, where there is some risk of vulnerability, builds the kind of relationships that are the prerequisite to such Togethers as encouraging one another, hurting with one another, examining one another’s faith, and practically every other Together. We cannot effectively obey most of the Together commands if we have not built safe relationships through hospitality where trust has been proven through inclusion into our private lives.

This command to be hospitable must be obeyed by everyone, not just more socially outgoing Christians. We must not hand over hospitality to those with talent in entertaining others in their homes. Hospitality is commanded of all of us, and it does not require supernatural power from the Holy Spirit or special talent.

Even those who are uncomfortable reaching out to others are under the instruction. God is asking us all, socially skilled or not, to extend hospitality and make friendships to power His work. Jesus will be there to help.

There are situations and times when hospitality must be extended outside of the home. When it becomes clear this is the only possible way, love and acceptance will be strongly felt. Where a spouse is an unbeliever, hospitality in the home might not be the best place. Married adults or those with children at home might require hospitality in a restaurant or on a fishing trip for one-on-one hospitality with another Christian. The opportunity for deeper conversation is the key. As merely going to a movie might not allow much time for more than just simple relationship, sitting and talking in the car is much more like bringing another person into the home.

In addition to home hospitality, there can be great results for the kingdom of God in inviting people into personal experiences as long as transparency and the ministry of the Togethers are available. Christian friendship groups, Christian families and Christian couples can invite people to go along in activities where just being together (“hanging out”) will occur. Picnics, fishing trips, garden shows, playground outings with the kids, and trips to the zoo qualify as hospitality that invites others into our private lives.

Jesus was rarely alone. His life was open wide to others. His closest group of friends were his disciples, whom he personally invited into his life. And there were “the multitudes” with whom He constantly engaged. Then there were special people like the socially rejected tax collector whom Jesus invited to climb down out of a tree to be with Him. Jesus’ openness to include others transformed many whose spirits were cut off from God.

We Christians can do the same.
Many Christians do not extend invitations until the house is cleaned and in perfect order, a fancy meal is planned, and everyone in the family knows how they are to behave. The result is that hospitality hardly ever happens.

But, Jesus-type hospitality is spontaneous and responds to people’s needs. His type of hospitality is not a well-orchestrated special event. Jesus included people with Himself just as He normally was. And, even if He had had a nice home out of which to operate, it would have had its doors wide open, no matter if he had just swept the floor or not.

Hospitality should be extended by individuals, but it is most dynamic when offered by Christian friendship groups, and Christian families, and Christian couples. When more than one wants someone to be with them, it means more. More people had to agree to include the one invited, and that makes the hospitality instill a greater feeling of being valuable. Plus, with additional believers present, more dynamic spiritual interaction will take place, especially if the hosts are dedicated to the Scriptural instruction of the Togethers.

We will be able to understand God’s joy in having us in his Home to the extent we enjoyed having people in our homes, even those who rubbed us the wrong way or disappointed us or offended us. After all, God will be happy having us in heaven, and we will have disappointed and offended Him quite often.

Let’s exercise a lot of hospitality now to be more able to appreciate the countless eternal relationships coming down life’s road, just after death. And let’s enter heaven with empathy with God’s hospitality and deepen our relationship with Him for all eternity.

Reflection & Group Tools

Continually invite many Christians into your homes and activities to show them
that God loves and values them. Integrate them more into the mutual ministry of
Christians to one another.

Luke 14:12-14; Rom 12:13; Heb 13:2; l Peter 4:9; Rev 3:20

Prayer to Embrace this Together

Dear God, You have shown us gracious hospitality that we have not deserved and opened Your arms wide to us. In response to Your love, I and those in my Christian Inner Circle will need Your help to grow our spirits to show hospitality to those You lead us to who are left out of such personal fellowship. Help us to yield to the work of the Holy Spirit for all of us to give You more glory in the way we bring others into our personal space to show them that they are valuable to You, and, therefore, to us.
Please help us all to become more like Jesus and open our lives to others outside of those with whom we regularly associate. In doing so, guide us to hear You tell us how we might serve those we give hospitality.
May our lives worship You more because we invite other Christians into our homes and lives. Like God, give us the opportunities to show hospitality to the poor, disabled, and rejected. Let us feel the joy we give You when we extend such love to the less fortunate. In our Christian Inner Circles, help us to recognize when another believer needs more than one of us to show him or her hospitality.
Make us strong in Your power to defeat the devil by thwarting his strategy to isolate Christians from deeper relationship with one another. Through hospitality extended to those who seem left out of significant Christian fellowship, let us see what Togethers of Scripture are called for to spiritually love those who come into our homes.
Help us all to prepare for heaven by growing more comfortable with all kinds of people through hospitality. We want to go to heaven with spirits already changed to include every other citizen of heaven as You arrange connections and relationships throughout eternity.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Your Spirit is most easily transformed in community. The tools below can facilitate your growth as you meet together with those you are in close Christian relationship with.

These are some of the possible benefits in heaven we will be seeking today by opening our minds to the Holy Spirit regarding being hospitable with one another.
If we often bring a variety of Christians into our homes, we will understand and appreciate God’s bringing us intimately into His family now and sharing His home of heaven with us for all eternity.

We will have the opportunity to develop an understanding and appreciation of the joy God will have when we are in His heaven.

We will develop advanced empathy with people for when in heaven we will relate to the fantastic variety of people who will be with us in heaven. We will have an advanced ability to enjoy differences in fellow citizens of heaven. When throughout eternity we hear millions of testimonies of God’s grace and salvation, we will experience more understanding and empathy that will lead to expanded praise.

Sanctification Booster #1:

List the types of people in each of your communities and work places who are different with regard to race, ethnic group, culture, age, lifestyle, and economic status.

Sanctification Booster #2:

Considering those listed in Sanctification Booster #1, what things get in the way of Christians having such Christians into their homes for a meal and fellowship?

Sanctification Booster #3:

What are the ways other than Bible studies Christians can transition from cordial and fun interaction to real-life concerns when they invite other Christians into their homes for advanced love and fellowship?