Jesus ate with sinners throughout His earthly ministry. He received children gladly. He taught us to invite the lowly to parties and to welcome strangers. He prepared breakfast for His wayward disciples, including Peter who had betrayed Him.
Jesus ate with the Emmaus disciples after His resurrection. Before His departure, Jesus said He was going to "prepare a place" for His people. Jesus also instituted the Lord's Supper, giving new meaning to the Passover meal, and told us that He will drink it again with us when "the kingdom of God comes."
Jesus' First Miracle and the Coming Kingdom
Each time Jesus performed a miracle, He gave us a taste of what's coming. In the coming kingdom, there will be no demon-possessed men, no storms to calm, no sicknesses to cure and no tears of the bereaved to wipe.
Jesus' first miracle was at a wedding party. The King gave us a glimpse of the ultimate party to come. Happiness, joy, fellowship and sweet communion with the King awaits His bride.
The promise of enjoying Jesus' glorious kingdom is made possible by His gracious provision.
In Ephesians 2:12, Paul tells us that we were formerly "foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world." but then adds the good news: "But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah."
Christ came to us, to bring us in to the family, at great sacrifice and cost. Now we enjoy the unspeakable privileges of the King's hospitality.
Jesus is Our Spiritual and Social Example
The question that we must ask ourselves is whether or not we're practicing Jesus-like ministry. Many Christians see Jesus as a personal moral example (and rightly so), but not as a social example. But why not? When you become a Christian, your social life, how you interact with others, should change also.
Do you have a reputation for hanging out with shady company for the purpose of showing them grace? Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating a cavalier spirit, and certainly not condoning sin. But I'm definitely advocating Jesus-like ministry.
Jesus was separated from sin, but never isolated from people. And He definitely wasn't the incarnate killjoy. Sinners loved being with Jesus. The poor and vulnerable found hope in Him. It was the religious pious that got upset with Him.
"Don't neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it."
Following Jesus includes following His practice of hospitality — joyous, authentic, generous, countercultural and hope-filled hospitality.
When Jesus says, "Come follow me," He isn't calling us to offer a class or start a program, but to follow His way of life. And that way includes opening up our homes and lives to others. But before we'll do this, we must open our hearts.
4 Practical Ways to Show Christian Hospitality
1. Welcome everyone you meet. I mean this literally and figuratively. Extend a kind word to everyone you meet, but also, share your time, energy and life with others — especially those who may need you more than you need them. Jesus welcomed strangers and outcasts (see Luke 19:1-10). In the same way that Zacchaeus was a "son of Abraham" and worthy of Jesus' time, the outcasts that you interact with are loved by God and worthy of your time too.
2. Engage people. Engage others with the mindset of being Jesus, not just inviting them to a function at your church (see Romans 12:13-20). This kind've engagement involves a personal connection, not just a "connection" via text or social media — I'm talking about face-to-face interaction.
3. Make meals a priority. Many of Jesus' striking moments occurred around meals. Invite a person to a meal and serve him or her. Pay for the meal if possible, pray for your guest specifically and serve him or her. Use mealtimes to build relationships and talk about things that really matter.
4. Pay attention. We all interact with people at work, at church, at school and in our communities. But how many of these people are outcasts that go unnoticed? Take some time out of your day to stop, look around and show kindness to others. Your uplifting word or kind action may change someone's life forever.
Excerpted from his book, Ordinary (B&H Publishing). Tony Merida is founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C.
This book is not a call to be more radical. If anything, it is a call to the contrary. The kingdom of God isn't coming with light shows, and shock and awe, but with lowly acts of service. Author and Pastor Tony Merida wants to push back against sensationalism and "rock star Christianity," and help people understand that they can make a powerful impact by practicing ordinary Christianity.