Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Extending the Table

Posted on 30 Jun 2013 in Bible, Culture, Discipleship, Teaching | Comments Off on Extending the Table

Hospitality is one of the key ways for Christians to not only encourage Jesus followers, but to share with others the Good News of Jesus.

And biblical hospitality is often quite different than our modern forms of hospitality.

Modern hospitality is often centered on what the host can do for the guest:

  • In modern hospitality, the host is the ‘expert’ (in some sense) and provides something to the guest.
  • In modern hospitality, the host has a level of superiority.
  • In modern hospitality, it is a one way street (Host to guest)

But true, biblical hospitality shows that any receiving of a guest must be a two way street.

  • The guest enters the space of the host, but the host also enters the space of the guest.
  • Both are able to learn and grow from each other.
  • All parties are welcome to contribute to the conversation and idea-shaping of everyone else.

We see this several times in the Bible, and a great example occurs in Luke 19:

  • Zacchaeus hosts, but also gets hosted by Jesus.
  • A stranger (Jesus) is invited in and receives something (a meal) but the host (Zacchaeus) gets something (salvation).
  • Both parties are served, edified, and encouraged.
Table At The Reception

Extending the Table (Photo credit: Metal Chris)

Paul tells the Roman church (12:13) to ‘practice hospitality.’ We falter when we think of hospitality as a static spiritual gift: either you have it or you don’t. What we quickly realize is that whether it is our gift or not, we are called to do it. We practice much like athletes. We realize that our game (welcoming, loving hospitality) is not as good as it could be, so we keep doing it in order to get better. We focus intentionally on all aspects of our game: welcoming, feeding, socializing, storytelling, laughing, sharing, drinking, fellowshipping, blessing, and encouraging.

So for the Christian, we must think of hospitality in terms of an ever expanding table. As more people start to listen in or walk by, we invite them into our space. We add new leaves to the table and pull up some more chairs. We see the guest not only as someone to be honored and blessed, but someone that can bring a new voice and perspective to the conversation. We don’t have to agree all the time (in fact we probably won’t) but we don’t assume superiority either. We let each person stand with their own credentials, perspectives, and God image. We encourage a diversity in views and see it as a way to experience a Kingdom much larger than any of us can picture or imagine on our own. Hospitality is, at its core, a way to both bless and be blessed by the love of God.

Hospitality must be a two way street in which we both give and receive. We see it in the incarnation, experience in the resurrection, and practice it in the community of those around us.


The preceding is an adaptation of a sermon given at Garden Park church on June 29, 2013.

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? What do you have to add to the conversation about hospitality? Please Enter the Discussion below.

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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