Odysseus arrives at the island of the Cyclopes (a giant with one eye). While there his men are trapped in its cave with no hope of escape. To add to their misery and despair the Cyclopes decides to have them for dinner. So for three days Odysseus has to watch his men be eaten, two at a time. They eventually escape but not without great loss.
Throughout this book Odysseus prevails upon the hospitality of many people and beast, whether it was good hospitality or not. All the while men are at his home, unwelcome, eating, drinking and partying, all at his expense, and he doesn’t even know about it, only his wife and son have to watch their home be torn apart. This brings me to the subject of hospitality. Where is hospitality in our culture? Why is it so important? What does your family do to show hospitality? Or are they to busy to welcome the stranger to their door?
“It is useful to limit the meaning of “hospitality” to benevolence done to those outside one’s normal circle of friends, as is implied in the literal meaning of the Greek word meaning “love of strangers.” Tyndale Bible dictionary
Hospitality has been lost in our culture. It has been broken down in many ways. We have lost the art of feasting, the concept of it. Why? We are to busy. We fill our days with ways to benefit ourselves, ignoring the man with the cardboard sign. We run here and there putting off the invitation to have our neighbors for dinner. We fill our day timers, yet have less time. Hospitality is lost because we make no time except for ourselves.
What happens in our culture when true hospitality is given? Because “self” reigns in our culture, hospitality is viewed with skepticism. Say you’re invited over to a friend’s house, but you think they only want you over so that they could get something out of you.
Instead of thinking of what the person might wish to give you are focused on what they might want from you. We must change this view and go back to what the Bible requires of us concerning hospitality.
“So he (Abraham) lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, and said, “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.” Gen. 18:2-5
This is a prime example of true hospitality. Abraham accepted these strangers, with no thought to who they were, he just knew that they were in need of refreshments.
“Be hospitable to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9)”.
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach.” 1 Tim.3:2
Clearly God wants us to be hospitable. We need to take the time to have people over to treat them kindly, and to do it all with a glad heart. But why is it so important? What is the reason behind hospitality? There are two reasons that we should be hospitable.
“You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Ex. 22:21.
Another reason for showing gratitude is found in Heb. 13:2- “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” This is seen in Abraham’s case that we read earlier. Three angels had come to tell him that he would have a son, the chosen seed of
Christians should we radically different from the Cyclopes whom Odysseus encountered. The Cyclopes ate those in his household; we should feed those who enter our home. People today are starved for true hospitality, but do not take the time to show it, we Christians need to bring it back.