One of the ways I have been richly blessed, challenged, and grown as a Christian and an individual has been through the means of dinning with others. Generally, when growing up, this took place around my parents' large dinning room table, which was usually over flowing both with guests and good food! There is something that tends towards camaraderie with one's fellows when you are all partaking in a meal together. Some of the best conversations I have enjoyed have occurred over dinner and before desert. My parents were very active in practicing hospitality through our Church and often we would have Christians and non-Christians a like dinning together. This gave amply opportunity for personal growth, instructive conversation, and on occasion the blessing of being able to see men, women, whole families come to a better understanding of who God is and the truth of His word.
I was talking to my husband about this the other day and he reminded me of the Gospel account in which Jesus called Levi/Matthew to be His disciple, where upon Matthew left his tax booth hosted a feast and invited his tax gathering friends to come and hear Jesus talk.
"As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew siting at the tax booth,
and He said to him, "Follow Me." And, he rose and followed Him.
And as [Jesus] reclined at table in [Matthew's] house,
many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and His disciples,
for there were many who followed Him. And the scribes of the Pharisees,
when they saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to His disciples,
"Why does He eat with tax collectors and sinners?" And when Jesus heart it, He said to them.
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
I come not to call the righteous, but sinners."
See Matthew 9:9-13 & Mark 2:13-17
This really is a beautiful picture. Not only are the physical needs of this group being met through the Hospitality of Matthew in providing a meal, but most importantly their spiritual hunger is being provided for with the bread of life, the words of Jesus, via the same venue, hospitality. When we practice hospitality our goal should not be just to provide a good meal, or nice entertainment, or ensuring that our guests have a good time...Hospitality can be those things, but it is also so much more. It is seeking, and sometimes creating, an opportunity to share the Love of God with our fellow men...be they family, Church family, friends, strangers, Christians, or un-Believers. (By they way, mixing the former groups up can prove to be a huge blessing to both you and those around your table.)
Given the pattern from the Gospel accounts and what I saw played out before me growing up, I am striving to find ways to open my home and my heart to more then just my friends and family (though they will always have a special place in my heart and in my home) but to reach out to those to need to hear the words of life. To Practice Hospitality in such a way that people not only see Christ in me, my family, and our home, but to be able to hear Christ in our conversations as well. That our words might truly be..."Word[s] fitly spoken [are] like apples of gold in a setting of silver." Proverbs 25:11