Hope for Healing Your City
There are few subjects of a more practical or potent nature for the end-time church or for the healing of America than that of hospitality. Here is one of the greatest tools of evangelism, a divine prescription for racial reconciliation, a key to restored families, and a “secret” to unlock the door of our hearts that the Church at “Your City” may become a living reality.
We’re All Strangers Here
On my daily broadcast, VIEWPOINT, I interviewed H.B. London, head of pastoral ministries for Focus on the Family, on the topic of Pastors at Risk. London disclosed that at least 70 percent of pastors in the United States claim they have no friends. William Hendricks, author of Exit Interviews, revealed on VIEWPOINT that 52,000 people per week are leaving through the back door of America’s churches. Hendricks found, among the top three reasons, that many do not believe the church provides true Christian fellowship and community. Whatever happened to Christian community? To covenant community? Are we destined to be strangers in the commonwealth of faith? Are you a virtual stranger to your family, to your neighbor, to your flock or to other pastors? Don’t answer too quickly. Secular and religious observers agree that the overarching social problem in the United States is the total fracture of community. But of greater concern, American Christians increasingly feel like strangers even within the church that is supposed to be the Body of Christ. Is there hope for a revival of true covenant community? I believe there is. Our hope lies in true Christian relationship born in a heart of hospitality. A revival of hospitality could well restore the hearts and homes of “Your City”.
Hospitality Reaches to Strangers
It’s tough to be a stranger. Strangers joined Israel’s march out of Egypt, believing the God of Jacob but alien to the sons of promise (see Ex. 12:38). God specifically included them in His covenants (see Ex. 12:48-49; Deut. 29:9-12). Exactly 70 times the “I AM” spoke to the stranger through Moses during Israel’s sojourn from Egypt to the promised land. Moses’ final instructions to Israel before they crossed over the Jordan speak of God’s heart for the stranger 24 times – twice for each of the 12 tribes. Israel knew it was tough to be a stranger. And God would not let Israel forget it. He commanded Israel to open her heart, her hand and her home in hospitality. Hospitality reaches to strangers.
The Hope of Hospitality
America’s hope and the healing of your city will be revealed in community. Sacrificial relationships with one another will demonstrate our covenant with God. Hope begins in your home and in your congregation. It begins with holy hospitality, formed in an open heart, an open hand and an open home. People committed only to themselves will starve physically, emotionally and spiritually. Congregations committed only to their own programs, without active commitment to the Body of Christ at large in their own cities, are incubators of isolationism. But God is calling us to a renewed understanding of Christian covenant and restored commitment to Christian community. Those are born in a heart of hospitality. Hospitality means to “reach to strangers.” A stranger is anyone who is unknown, unfamiliar, unacquainted or unconsidered. Our city and our congregations are packed with them. They include neighbors, co-workers, our spouses, our children, our parishioners, and fellow pastors. A holy disillusionment is brewing from pulpit to pew. The hope of our healing is rooted deeply in the Father’s heart of hospitality.
Hospitality – Heart of the Gospel
The gospel is good news precisely because it tangibly translates God’s heart. We were all estranged sinners from God. But the Father’s heart opened His divine hand, sending His only Son “across the tracks” to a sinful place called earth, to extend an invitation to join Him for an eternal marriage supper in His home. Christ declared, “I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am, there you may be also.” God loves strangers. Jesus was hospitality incarnate. Watch Him reach to the outcast, to the poor, to the tax collector, to the sinner. Peter, apostle to the Jews, warned, “The end of all things is at hand” (I Pet. 4:7). In that end-time plea, he exhorted, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (I Pet. 4:9).
Giving Ourselves to Hospitality
“Let love be without hypocrisy…Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love…given to hospitality” (Rom. 12:9-10, 13). Notice, Paul does not say “gifted in” hospitality. We are told to give ourselves to hospitality. So elementary is this kingdom principle that Paul required anyone in leadership to be “a lover of hospitality” (Titus 1:8, KJV). Hospitality is the tangible translation of agape love, the key that unlocks the door to genuine body life. It is God’s natural and supernatural outreach tool. Hospitality is the grease that lubricates and activates legitimate ministry. Purported ministry without it, regardless of appearances, is a cheap organizational counterfeit. Hospitality makes our creeds credible. Preaching, teaching and living Biblical hospitality will revolutionize the church as we know it. It gives the necessary “handle” to activate the love of God we profess to offer. Hospitality will also conquer racism. Racial division is a matter of the heart. Reconciliation will require holy hospitality. Relationship is the only Biblical path to reconciliation. Both black and white believers must be intentional about the opening of their homes and hearts in genuine hospitality. Hospitality means to “reach to strangers.” If it were natural, we would not have to reach. It is time for us to take kingdom risks. We must love God enough to love our brothers.
We cannot love corporately until we love individually. Invite someone across the color barrier to your home today. Perfect love will cast out your fear. And the healing of America will begin in your home. If we break bread together, we will break barriers together. Pick up the phone now. Write the note now. Talk is cheap. The walk will cost you your time. Forget programs. Build relationships. Holy hospitality is the solution – and it can even conquer racism.
Open Heart, Open Hand, Open Home
Love has become organizational rather than organismal. Programmed caring often renders faceless the objects of our care. The Master yearns for us to bring the poor to our own house and to feed the hungry with our own food (see Is. 58:7). He wants to eradicate strangerhood at the table of His truth in these final moments of history. The “I AM” is stirring by His Spirit to create a holy disillusionment with institutionalized “churchianity.” He is calling His church home, for “home is where the heart is.” Through small group and cell ministry, touching one another’s lives “from house to house,” He is breaking us out of the bondage of institutionalized worship. His purpose is to restore the relational gospel of a Savior who was the Word made flesh – the very incarnation of the divine heart of hospitality.
Let there be no more strangers among the household of faith. Open your heart, then your hand and then your home. It will change the way you think and live. And it will profoundly impact our city, our nation and the world.
The Father asks you today, “Do you love Me?” His response echoes through the centuries: “Then love the stranger.”
*Excerpt from Chuck Crismier’s new book in progress – Hospitality From the Heart – c. 2002. Check this website in the near future for release date on this book.
SAVE AMERICA Ministries
P.O. Box 70879 • Richmond, VA 23255
(804) 754-1822 • (804) 754-1823 FAX • www.saveus.org