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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:The One Another Commandments: Be Hospitable to One Another
Text:1 Peter 4:7-9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2021-11-09
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Genesis 2:18-3:21; Revelation 21

Text: 1 Peter 4:7-9

 

THE ONE-ANOTHER COMMANDMENTS: SHOW HOSPITALITY TO ONE ANOTHER

  1. Our Lack of Hospitality is Indefensible

  2. Our Call to Hospitality is Inescapable

  3. Our Received Hospitality is Incomparable

 

  1. Psalm 84: 1, 2

  2. Psalm 82:1-3

  3. Psalm 124: 1-3

  4. Hymn 73: 1, 2

  5. Hymn 50: 1, 3

  6. Hymn 67: 1, 2, 5, 7

 

Words to Listen For: Marco, cakes, language, hatemail, slap

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. Why is hospitality hard?  How is hospitality possible?

  2. What were some great things that Julian said?

  3. How are these the last days?  How then should we live?

  4. Is hospitality a spiritual gift?  Why or why not?

  5. What is Rosaria Butterfield’s experience with hospitality?  What is a greater example of it?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved brothers and sisters,

 

Last week, I stumbled across a very interesting podcast on the radio.  The podcast is called Now or Never, and the two hosts simply interview Canadians about a wide variety of topics.  One week, it might be about regrets, another week about anger, joy, body positivity, or something else completely.  This particular episode was, rather coyly called “In the Bedroom.”

Now, let me assure you, the word bedroom here is not a euphemism for something else, it was not an R-rated episode, but just a very literal description of the topic that week.  This is their description: These days our bedrooms have become all of the things: the place we sleep, work, relax, study, eat, exercise... the list goes on!  The hosts interviewed a variety of people and inquired about the design, the content, the intention, and other things about their bedrooms.

They acknowledged that this is a very personal topic, and that being invited, even virtually, into someone’s bedroom is strange...but also good.  And they ended off by concluding that seeing or hearing about someone’s bedroom lets us know each other more, and that they are tempted to go snooping the next time that they are invited over to a friend’s place.

And it’s easy to laugh this off as the strange curiosity of people...that we desire to snoop in someone else’s life…but I think there’s something deeper to it.  This is something that is ingrained in our created nature.  The sense of community.  The sense of intimacy.  You can’t have community without knowledge.  You can’t have intimacy without knowledge.

For the first man and the first woman...they were intimate.  There were no walls in their relationship, nothing was hidden, not even the most personal thing of all - their bodies.  They were fully exposed to each other, but there was no shame.  There was no fear.  There was nothing indecent or sleazy about it.  It just...was.  And it was good.

And note that this ended the second that they sinned.  With the fruit came all of these things: shame, fear, indecency.  They covered themselves up, because intimacy had become uncomfortable and scary.  Honesty had become difficult, and being vulnerable with each other seemed impossible.  Their first act was to cover themselves up, and their second act was to hide.

What was lost, we could say, without it being too much of a stretch - was hospitality.  That care for the other.  That welcoming, gracious, generous vulnerability that it takes to love another person.  This morning, let us examine our second

[THE] ONE-ANOTHER COMMANDMENT[S]: SHOW HOSPITALITY TO ONE ANOTHER.  We will see that:

  1. Our Lack of Hospitality is Indefensible

  2. Our Call to Hospitality is Inescapable

  3. Our Received Hospitality is Incomparable

 

Our Lack of Hospitality is Indefensible

After an introduction like THAT...how is a sermon like THIS possible?

If hospitality was something truly lost in the Garden, how can Scripture then turn around and command it 5 times in the New Testament alone, not even mentioning the countless examples in the Old Testament where hospitality was commended, and those lacking hospitality were cursed...JUST looking at the New Testament, JUST looking at direct instructions...5 times.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality - Romans 12:13

Therefore an overseer must be...hospitable - 1 Timothy 3:2

For an overseer...must be...hospitable - Titus 1:8

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers - Hebrews 13:2

And then our text for this morning: Show hospitality to one another without grumbling - 1 Peter 4:9.

It is pretty clear that this is what God wants His church to do, this is WHO God wants His church to be.  But has He set us up for failure?  

This is a hopeless commandment, isn’t it?  We LOST IT IN THE GARDEN.  It’s GONE.  There’s NOTHING THERE ANYMORE.  Our understanding of hospitality, our ability to perform this act of service...it’s all gone...there’s nothing in my hand, there’s nothing in my heart…

But don’t give up hope just yet.

Take a look at our Genesis reading once again.

What happens in the very next verse?

We see that:

They sinned

They covered

They hid

Then verse 9...BUT GOD.  The gospel in 2 words.

BUT GOD.  And the gospel in 2 words is followed by the gospel in 3 words: Where are you?  Where are you?  The gospel in 3 words.

God KNEW where they were...He’s GOD!  This question wasn’t for His sake, as though He was playing a game of Marco Polo with them...this was a gracious and merciful question.  This was a question that displayed His love.

This is the question that is taken up by the lips of our God again, expanding what He means in Isaiah 1:18 - Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Where are you?  Come, be with me.  You’ve sinned, you’ve betrayed me, you have forsaken me...but I love you too much to just leave you.  Your love might be fickle, your love might grow cold...but not my love.  Come, be with me.  Be near to me.  Enjoy my company once more.

We see, IMMEDIATELY after the Fall, IMMEDIATELY after the loss of hospitality, a question of hospitality, an offer of hospitality.

It is no exaggeration to say, as one minister did, that hospitality is the heart of God’s culture.

 

We hear time after time that hospitality was the culture of the Ancient Near East - the culture of the Old Testament.

We hear, time after time, that hospitality was the culture of Roman society - the culture of the New Testament.

 

But here’s where everyone is wrong...while “hospitality” was a big part of the Ancient Near Eastern culture...it wasn’t true hospitality.

For what is hospitality?

Literally hospitality is “love of the stranger.”  The Greek word is just these two words shoved together: Philos (love) and Xenos (stranger).  That’s where we get the word Xenophobia from...rather the opposite of hospitality.  Fear of the stranger vs love of the stranger.

But Ancient Near Eastern “hospitality” wasn’t truly out of love, it was a calculated move.  It was a practical move.  Hospitality was done out of fear.   Let me explain.

Since travel was so dangerous and treacherous, each person had it in the back of their minds that when they were at home, they would take in each and every stranger, so that, if the roles were ever reversed, they too would be taken in.

It wasn’t selfless love, it was very selfish fear that motivated this cultural “hospitality.”

And as for hospitality being part of the Roman culture...it was hospitality to strangers that set the Christians apart!

This is what the pagan and Christian-hating Emperor Julian said about the Christians:

 

    These...Galileans not only feed their own poor, but ours also;

     welcoming them into their love feasts, they attract them, as children

     are attracted, with cakes…While our priests neglect the poor, the

     hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity and by a

     display of false compassion have established and given effect to their

     pernicious errors. See their love-feasts and their tables spread for the

     needy. Such practice is common among them and causes a contempt

     for our gods.

The Ancient Near East practiced hospitality out of fear, and the Roman culture practiced it only to those they thought of as worthy, only the rich, so that they could pay them back.  Neither storing up good will for the future, nor throwing lavish dinner parties for your friends is TRUE HOSPITALITY.

The secular cultures of the day were not actually hospitable...but rather, it was the culture of God’s people!  And so we today, who aren’t good at hospitality...we can’t turn to the culture and blame IT for our failures.  “It was easier back then - no it wasn’t!”  Rather, the blame rests squarely on our shoulders.  This is what God has told us to do...and we have not done it.

We cannot blame our lack of ability, lost in the Garden, for God has given us His law, and has filled us with His Spirit.  We know what to do, and we have the ability to do it.

We cannot blame our culture, for true and radical hospitality has always been counter-cultural.  We have no-one to blame but ourselves.

There is no excuse - the call keeps coming to us all throughout Scripture - BE HOSPITABLE!  This is not any kind of optional statement, but hospitality is the lifeblood of the church.  It is a call that is inescapable.  Our second point.

Now that we see that we can’t “pass the buck” to sinful nature, or secular culture, we get to our text and to our commandment.

The end of all things is at hand

Now, already here we must pause.  Because we read this, we read these types of sayings all through the New Testament, and we wonder what exactly is going on.  Because these words were written 2000 years ago.

The end is at hand?  It seems that Peter got it wrong.  And it’s not just Peter, and it’s not just here.  It’s the Apostle Paul.  It’s the Apostle John.  All throughout the New Testament, we read about the imminent return of Christ.

So...what do we do with this?  Do we scratch out these verses and say, “Well, I guess this part’s not inspired” ?  Is this just a big question mark?  No, thankfully it’s not!

Another minister pointed me to a phrase by C.S. Lewis that covers this rather well, in a very compact way.  Just one sentence.

C.S. Lewis, in the book Voyage of the Dawntreader has Aslan, the Christ-figure, talking to Lucy, one of the humans.

     And he says: “Don’t look so sad, we will meet soon, again.”

     And Lucy replies: “Please, Aslan, what do you call soon?"

     "I call all times soon", said Aslan.”

I call all times soon.  Especially in these times.  The last days.  I’m not saying “last days” as though I have identified the Anti-Christ, and have seen the mark of the beast...but because the time between the 1st and 2nd comings of Christ are the last days...BEHOLD I AM COMING SOON!

And it’s sooner for us today than it was for Peter, beloved.  Christ COULD return at any moment...but even if He doesn’t...you may meet Him, face to face, at any moment.  None of us know how many tomorrows we have left.  Tomorrow is not promised to anyone.

This may be your last day here.  This may be MY last day here.  The end of all things may just be at hand for me or for you.

So...what should we do?  How should we live, knowing that these are the end times?  The time between the first and second coming of Christ?

Well, Peter lays it out for us...and really...living in the end times is normal Christian living.

The end of all things is at hand, therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

In the end times, pray harder, love deeper, and serve more selflessly.  In the end times, pray harder, love deeper, and serve more selflessly.

Though verse 7 and 8 are filled with such wonderful truth, such wonderful application, our focus this morning is going to be primarily on verse 9.

Now, verse 8 ramps this up, so to speak, flowing directly into verse 9, because we see that LOVE flows directly into HOSPITALITY.  Hospitality is love in action.

This is why I could say last time that LOVE was foundational, and still say this time that HOSPITALITY is foundational.  The two are so bound up together that you can’t have one without the other.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

It is interesting, beloved...that in the various lists of spiritual gifts we find in the New Testament, in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12...hospitality is not found on either list.  It’s not there.  Administration, prophecy, healing...but no hospitality.

And why?  It is because hospitality is not a special spiritual gift, given only to some.  Hospitality is not one of those things that you can say “oh I’m not outgoing enough, oh I’m not sure I can do this, God hasn’t gifted me in this area.”

As a Christian, you must practice hospitality.  Hospitality is the overflow of love, hospitality is the language of God’s Kingdom, and as a citizen of that kingdom, you had better learn how to speak.

And notice what Peter says.  He does not end verse 9 on the word hospitality.  He doesn’t end verse 9 on the words “one another.”  But he adds two words that make it all so much harder.

Show hospitality to one another WITHOUT GRUMBLING.

Why would we grumble?

Because hospitality is hard!  Because hospitality is costly!  Because hospitality is tiring!

You see...hospitality isn’t just throwing a dinner party.  It’s more than that.

For it to be true hospitality, it has to flow out of true love for your brother.  True care for your sister.  True hospitality means preparation.  And that preparation is more than just sweeping the house.  

  • Preparation for hospitality means praying over your neighbours.

  • Preparation for hospitality means, as one pastor said, “being frugal with yourself so you can be frivolous with others.”

  • Preparation for hospitality means getting yourself over the hump of inviting other people into your home.  Something, as we heard in the introduction, that is very intimate.  Very personal.  Very strange.

  • Preparation for hospitality means preparing yourself to be vulnerable.  Not just in everyone seeing your home, whether it is small or large, clean or messy, dusty or just dusted...but in actually opening up your heart.

Hospitality is about opening your doors...but more importantly it is about opening your heart and opening your life to others.

Hospitality is literally the love of strangers, but they don’t remain strangers for long.  Hospitality is transforming outsiders into insiders.  Transforming strangers into neighbours, and neighbours into the family of God.  Transforming strangers into neighbours, and neighbours into the family of God.

Remember that quote from Emperor Julian?  He was so furious that Christians were showing love to the least in society.

He was so furious that this was leading many to convert to Christianity and leave the Roman religion.

Do you know, that his dying words were “You have won, Galilean” ?  This was his name for Christ.  Julian knew that Christianity had won.  He knew that Christ had won, and he was right.  The very next year, Christianity was re-established as the official religion of the empire.  This was done, without a sword, without a revolt, without protests in the streets, but through simple hospitality.  Through simple love that the world cannot understand.  It is love that conquers, not might.

Hospitality is costly, and you may not always get what you want out of it.  There will be those who take advantage of your hospitality.  They may see that you are willing to feed them, willing to love them, willing to invite them in, and see you as an easy mark.  Now if someone is going to take advantage of your hospitality...I have two words to say to you.  Just two words: WHO CARES?

Whoa, that came out of nowhere, didn’t it?

But really. I truly mean it.  Who cares?  If you spend money for these people...it’s just money.  If you spend time and love on these people...you’re loving those who don’t love you back.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?

That’s the gospel!  Jesus died for us WHILE WE WERE HIS ENEMIES!  The greatest act of love ever committed was done for those WHO WERE CRUCIFYING HIM.  Those who were CURSING HIM.

And you waste a little money?

It’s not ever a waste if it’s for the gospel cause.  Do what you are commanded to do, and let God take care of the results.  It is never a waste if it is done out of love.

There is an amazing and inspiring story of hospitality that may have seemed wasted for a time.  This is the story of Rosaria Butterfield.  Some of you may know of her.

Rosaria Butterfield is now a widely respected Christian author, and wife of a minister, but she wasn’t always this way.  Before gospel love, shown through hospitality came into her life, she was a lesbian university professor of feminist theory.  She had no use for men or for Christians, except seeing them as enemies and as scapegoats for the evils of society.

And then all that changed.

After writing a scathing indictment on the Christian men’s organization Promise Keepers, in among all the hatemail from Christians, there was a letter that stood out to her.  A letter from a conservative Christian minister.  While he challenged some of her misconceptions, he did something that no other Christian had ever done for her - he invited her over for dinner.  Rosaria prepared for the onslaught of judgement and condemnation...but something else happened.  This is what she said, in her own words:

    I breathed hard and hoisted myself out of my truck...I waded through

     the unusually thick July humidity to the front door, and I knocked.

     The threshold to their life was like none other.

     The threshold to their life brought me to the foot of the cross.

Because of the unconditional love of this minister and his wife, coupled with the truth of Christianity...a soul was won.  It didn’t happen that day, or the next, but after doing what was commanded, and letting God take care of Rosaria’s heart...He brought her into the flock.

It’s a tall order to show true hospitality.  There is no question about that.  But we have been given the ability to do so, and we have been given the best pattern of the greatest hospitality ever shown.  Our final point.

It’s easy to look at the story of Rosaria Butterfield and see her story as the perfect and best example of hospitality in action.  I may have said this and thought this myself.  But her story is, at best, the second best example.

Because it is GOD who is the best example of hospitality, bar none.  Just look at what He has done.  Look at His “track-record of hospitality” so to speak

At the beginning, we were put in God’s Garden.  Adam was placed there, Eve was created there.  The first thing that Adam and Eve experienced was God’s divine hospitality.  All of this...all that is mine...is yours.

**I** am yours too.  Your creator, your friend, your companion.  What amazing hospitality, right from the start.

And then, when we sinned, God’s first reaction is that of restoring hospitality.  Restoring intimacy.

The Old Testament sacrament of Passover, the high point of the year, celebrating God’s mighty deliverance, was celebrated over a meal.  He invited the sinful, rebellious, idolatrous Israelites into His presence with this holy meal and showed His love and salvation to them.

The New Covenant, the New Covenant in Christ’s blood was celebrated over a meal.  He invited His disciples, the 12 in that room, and all of us here today, into His presence.  To eat His own body, drink His own blood, and have that relationship, have that fellowship be restored.

The early church went from home to home.  For the first 250 years or so, there were no church buildings.  The gospel went from home to home, as God was drawing more and more people into HIS home - the household of God!

Everything God does, is in the spirit of hospitality.  And why?

Because hospitality speaks of peace.  Hospitality speaks of love.  Hospitality speaks words of welcome and belonging.  These are, at once, the deepest longings of the human heart, and the basic offers, the basic pillars and foundations, of the gospel.  Peace, love, welcome, and belonging.

When you welcome someone into your home, when you sit at a table with them, you are saying

  • I’m at peace with you

  • You are welcome in my home

  • Whatever has happened in the past, whatever words have been spoken, whatever harm that has been done...I’m happy to have you here

And the opposite is true as well.  When you tell someone that they are not welcome in your home, it is a deep insult.  It is a slap in the face, and causes real and lasting hurt.

It is telling that those who reject the gospel, those who remain enemies of God until their dying breath, we read that at the end of time they are:

  • Thrown outside

  • Into the outer darkness

  • They shall not enter the heavenly city

  • They will be OUTSIDE forever and ever

Hospitality is the gospel message, hospitality is the gospel promise, and inhospitality (for lack of a better word) is the curse.

Remember what we read in Revelation 21?

After the beautiful and wonderful promises of the first verses, John seems to go on and on about the city.  On and on about the walls, the gates, the measurements of everything.  You may have wondered why I read the whole chapter.  But there was a good reason.  You know why?

It’s because Heaven is built as a house.

     The walls made of jasper...

     The gates made of pearls...

     The city made of gold...

     The foundations of every kind of gemstone…

This is God’s house that He is building, because Heaven is the ultimate expression of hospitality.  This is what our Saviour promised.  I am going to prepare a place for you...that where I AM, you may also be!

God is welcoming us into His home, His city, built for us, and the doors will never be shut.

And in that home…

     In that home, God Himself will dwell with us.  He will be our God, and we will be His people.

     In this home, God’s home...our home...there will be no more death or darkness, crying, mourning or pain.

     We will sit at His table, and we will share the marriage feast of the Lamb, together.

We will all be feasting together in heaven...so why wait?  Why wait for that perfect peace, that perfect love, that perfect sense of belonging for that to start?  We will be feasting together in heaven, so let us already experience a foretaste of that here on earth.

This week, you have 21 opportunities for hospitality.  You have 21 opportunities to share your table with someone who needs it, not to mention coffee breaks and snacktime, even overnight providing a bed.  Use at least one of these many, God-given opportunities to show God’s grace, to show God’s love to those who need it.

It is my true desire for each one of you that your plates, your chairs, your tables WEAR OUT in service of the Kingdom.

     The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”

     And let the one who hears say, “Come.”

Everything about Heaven says COME.  Let us say the same.

AMEN.

 



* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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