A True Welcome

By Chad Golden
In eLetter
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Two names immediately come to mind when I hear the word "hospitality"—Jonathan and Bre. About a year ago I had the privilege of traveling to Kansas in order to help my friend Daniel propose to his girlfriend. The only problem is that I don't know a single person who lives in Kansas and there wasn't any affordable hotels nearby (there's not much in rural Kansas after all), so I had no clue where I was going to sleep that weekend. That's where Jonathan and Bre come in. These two people were friends of a friend of a friend. They had no idea who I was and yet they graciously opened their home to me for the weekend. They said, "what's ours is yours!" Not only did they provide a roof over my head, they also cooked several meals for me, introduced me to their family and friends, showed me around the area, and asked about my hopes and dreams. I've never felt more welcomed somewhere in my entire life.

Who does that? Who invites a complete stranger into their home? Jonathan and Bre do. Why? Because they love Jesus. They shared that they want their home to be a hospitable place for friends and strangers alike to gather together because that's what they see Jesus model for all of us.

I wonder if you have experienced that kind of hospitality before. When have you felt truly welcomed by someone? What was that experience like for you?

In explaining what it looks like to love one another in Romans 12, Paul tells the church to "share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality" (Rom. 12:13). The type of hospitality Paul is talking about isn't simply a smile and a handshake (though that is certainly important); it is a sacrificial kind of generosity. It looks like caring for strangers, providing food for the hungry, and welcoming the downcast. It's a type of generosity that isn't easy and doesn't allow us to remain in our comfort zones. It's a kind of service to others that is costly, but it is worth it because it models the love of Jesus in a truly tangible way.

If you are getting this eLetter it's likely because you call IBC home. I am glad you are here and I hope you have found IBC to be a welcoming and hospitable place! I pray it is a church where you have felt seen, known, loved, and cared for. But now we need your help! The work of hospitality is something that God calls each and every one of us to live out in our daily lives. We have been welcomed into the family of God and are now invited to turn and welcome our neighbors in response.

So, consider this your personal invitation to be part of our hospitality team, because really we are all responsible for the work of hospitality. You may not be able to wear a lanyard and hold open a door on Sunday mornings, but I would ask you to consider what you can do to show hospitality to our neighbors. Maybe it looks like introducing yourself to someone you don't recognize and inviting them to lunch. Maybe it looks like gathering a group of people to pack backpacks for students in need. Maybe it's simply showing someone where to check their children into kid's ministry. Whatever it might be, I would ask you to consider how you can tangibly demonstrate the love of Jesus through the practice of hospitality.

May we be a church that is known by how we welcome, love, and serve our neighbors.

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