The Church in Crisis.

How does a church stay encouraged as they endure difficulty? We explore another spiritual practice today from 1 Peter 4:7-11.

Be Available Willingly

1 Peter 4:9 very simply says to be hospitable without complaint. This command is rooted in the attitude of God toward us. As one author wrote, "The ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for sinners to make everyone who believes a member of his household." We are no longer strangers to God but His adopted children. Therefore, we are eager to offer hospitality to others in God's family even if we don't know them.

This normal Christian practice is even more necessary to continue in crisis. It is not an option in this verse, but a command. The Spirit of God leads believers to take initiative, not wait for others to be hospitable to them. In the doing will come the reciprocity, mutual sharing, and interdependent encouragement.

For context, in the first century, inns were few in number and typically disreputable places where Christians would not be comfortable staying. Persecuted Christians on the run would not have many good options of safe places to stay. This verse tells believers to continually open their homes to their spiritual family in need.

What This Means For Us

In the United States today, Christians are not on the run from persecution as they are in other places in the world. The more crisis comes to a region, the more mobile Christians become, looking for safe housing. Paul and Jesus both took action to escape persecutors when they could. Hospitality is a spiritual gift that not every believer may have, but every one needs to practice it.

There are several principles to help us strengthen the Body of Christ through hospitality. It is natural and good to spend time with those who are a similar age or life stage as you. Do you also know people who are not your peers? Part of hospitality is getting to know people you wouldn't normally be grouped with. Consider hosting someone you don't know yet who you worship with, perhaps someone in a personal time of crisis. Your pastors and leaders can help you identify these people. There are also opportunities to host traveling missionaries, pastors, and other believers. This captures the element of hospitality to strangers.

We must practice hospitality now so we can be ready when crisis comes to us or those near us. Children growing up in hospitable homes see how mature believers care for each other, rejoice and weep together. This environment helps us become more patient and partner together in the Gospel for the protection and revitalization of the church (Philippians 1:5). Renewal of ministry confidence happens when God's grace operates in the environment of hospitality.

Application Points

  • Have you been adopted into God's family? What does this mean to you?
  • Prayer is one way we can support our brothers and sisters around the world who do face persecution. What else could you do?
  • Do you know names of people in your church family who are not your own age or stage of life? How can you reach out to get to know a wider variety of people?
  • Consider inviting someone over who you worship with but don't know, perhaps someone in a personal time of crisis. Ask a pastor or ministry leader if you need an idea of who to invite.
  • How have you seen spiritual growth happen in the environment of hospitality?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Exodus 22:21, Deuteronomy 14:28-29, Luke 14:12-24, Matthew 10:42, Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 3:1-2, 5:9-10, Hebrews 13:2 – hospitality in the Bible
Quotes to Ponder

"Every true home is an influence of blessing in the community where it stands. Its lights shine out. Its songs ring out. Its spirit breathes out. The neighbors know whether it is hospitable or inhospitable, warm or cold, inviting or repelling. Some homes bless no lives outside their own circle; others are perpetually pouring out sweetness and fragrance. The ideal Christian home is a far reaching benediction. It sets its lamps in its windows, and while they give no less light and cheer to those within, they pour a little beam upon the gloom without, which may brighten some dark path and put a little cheer into the heart of some belated passerby. Its doors stand open to everyone who comes seeking shelter from the storm, or sympathy in sorrow, or help in trial."

— J.R. Miller, Family, 1882

"Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden. It is easier to say 'my tooth is aching' than to say 'my heart is broken.'"

— C.S. Lewis