Practice Gospel Hospitality

Love Your Neighbor

For Christians, hospitality doesn’t mean hosting the perfect dinner party. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors, but how does that play out in everyday life? Authors Rosaria Butterfield, Kathleen Nielson, and Gloria Furman discuss the life-changing impact of hospitality. Rosaria shares her story of coming to faith in Jesus through the welcoming actions of a local pastor and challenges Christians to do the same for the unbelievers in their lives.

Rosaria Butterfield is the author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert and Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ. Kathleen Nielson is the Director of Women's Initiatives for The Gospel Coalition and the author of Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word. Gloria Furman serves in the Middle East with her husband and family and is the author of several books including, The Pastor's Wife, and Missional Motherhood

Rosaria shared her story of how Christian hospitality introduced her to a relationship with Christ. A pastor in the town she lived in befriended her, listened to her, and loved her. Through their friendship, she met Jesus, abandoned her gay lifestyle, and now extends the same hospitality that brought her to God with others.  

What struck you about Rosaria’s story? Why? Have you ever thought of hospitality as a way to share the gospel? Why or why not?
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When have you received hospitality from another believer? What stood out to you about the experience? Why?
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Rosaria said Ken, the man who led her to Christ, never pushed her or forced her to go to church. He listened and understood. He modeled what it looks like to be unified with Christ who dignified and loved the outcast. 

When you encounter a nonbeliever, how do you tend to react to their unbelief? Would you say you act like Ken—unified with Christ? Why or why not?
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Would you describe your church as hospitable? Why or why not? What practices are in place to welcome guests and reach out into the community? If there aren’t any in place, what are some ideas you have for increasing hospitality in your church?
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Rosaria described her home as an “open home,” meaning she and her family open up their home to believers and nonbelievers often. Are you in a place in your life where this practice is possible? If so, what might it look like to have an open home? If not, how could you support believers who do have an open home?
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Gloria lives in another country where she interacts with over seventy cultures in her church alone. She talked about how she and her family adjusts to the various cultural customs when they visit church members’ homes.  

Have you ever had a cross-cultural encounter with hospitality? If so, describe your experience. What made you uncomfortable? Did anything surprise you? What did you enjoy most? If not, would you consider putting yourself in a cross-cultural situation to experience their hospitality? Why or why not?
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Rosaria said the call of Christians is to be a good neighbor. Our neighbors aren’t necessarily our friends—those familiar and easy to love. They are the outcasts, the foreigners, the lonely. As followers of Christ, who elevated us from enemy to friend, we should extend a hospitable hand to our neighbors. 

In what ways could you be hospitable to your neighbors this week? How could you seek out, listen to, and love the outcasts, foreigners, and lonely people in your life?
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Think about ways you could be hospitable this week. If you are able, open up your home. Listen to the unbelievers in your life and love them with Christ’s love. Model the hospitality Jesus shows us when we put our trust in Him—He adopts us into His family.  

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