“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
A true mark of a community that’s continually being formed in the gospel is the warmth and hospitality that supernaturally flows from within it. Community in which Christ is constantly remembered as the Author of the community is one that is grace-filled and loving.
For the Roman Christians, this was a pretty cut-and-dried issue. There were believers among them without food and clothing. So what was the Church supposed to do for them? Simple: give them food and clothes. The gospel reminds us that we are all needy, every one of us. Since Christ has met our needs, we are motivated to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters.
But while assistance with food, clothing, rent, and utility bills are essential ways churches can meet the needs of believers who are struggling, often the bulk of people’s need today is not material but spiritual. How, then, do believers practice Jesus-centered hospitality?
At its core, meeting the needs of others means that those with less are invited to share in the joys and blessings of those who have more. But our tendency is to narrow this definition to money. In a Jesus-centered community, actions of hospitality go beyond those who are rich sharing with those who are poor. Men skilled in plumbing and carpentry share with people who are not. Parents who’ve raised children share wisdom with new mothers and fathers. Lawyers, doctors, and other professionals utilize their unique skills to serve those in need of those skills at the moment when they are needed. (And those with great tickets share with their pastors.)
The early church instinctively understood meeting each other’s needs based on a gospel orientation. They longed for one another, met continually together, provided for each other (Acts 2:44–45). And in God’s providence, He has continued to arrange community around each person in order to meet the needs of each individual. He has chosen to use community to ensure His people experience nurture and care.
Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and I are posting questions each month for church leaders to discuss with their teams. The content and questions are based on our book Creature of the Word. You can get the book here and access the monthly audit here.