“Dear friend, you are showing faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers, especially when they are strangers.” 3 John 1:5

The elder in 3rd John commends Gaius for his treatment of strangers. His actions are called ‘faithful’ and we learn that he demonstrated love by welcoming them and showing hospitality. If Gaius’ faithful actions toward strangers are an example of hospitality, I think it’s worth pondering what is faithful hospitality and who are the strangers. Henri Nouwen has a quote that might be helpful here:

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.” – Henri J. M. Nouwen

Faithfully showing hospitality is creating a space where a stranger can enter and transform from an enemy to a friend.

Opening your home and welcoming a stranger is a beautiful way to create space. I’ve walked alongside many families in our church who welcome foster children into their homes. They provide meals, a bed, supplies for school, rides to doctor visits, but more significantly, a family to call their own for however long they need it. As a child’s needs are met, as they experience love and security, these families witness life transformation right in front of their eyes. A stranger becomes a friend – and much more – a treasured son or daughter! I think that’s what Nouwen was getting at when he said hospitality offers space where change can take place.

I don’t believe hospitality is limited only to those who have a home though. We can create ‘space’ in other areas of our lives for people to enter but only if we are willing to move towards the stranger; to live incarnationally with the lost and hurting. There’s a group at Emmanuel Faith called the Family Strong Care Community. They walk alongside a local foster family, delivering dinners, babysitting kids, running errands, and regularly praying for the family. They are faithfully bringing hospitality to this family’s door. Each member of the Care Community has committed to moving towards the stranger, creating space for lives to change.

As you reflect on what faithful hospitality is, will you consider who God is calling you to move towards? In what way is Jesus asking you to create space for lives to be transformed?

Anna Nielsen
Life on Mission Director

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