Making Room: A Study of Biblical Hospitality: Day 11

Making Room for the Church

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Today's Text: Psalm 133:1, Malachi 2:10, John 13:35, Acts 4:32, Romans 8:15-17, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Ephesians 3:8-10, Colossians 3:12-17

Text: Psalm 133:1, Malachi 2:10, John 13:35, Acts 4:32, Romans 8:15-17, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Ephesians 3:8-10, Colossians 3:12-17

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.”
- Acts 4:32

This verse sure feels warm and fuzzy. It’s easy to romanticize the friendships in the early Church. But the reality of our own relationships surely lifts the veil. What is true for us must also have been true for them: authentic community takes work.

Mind if I make a confession? I spent most of my adult life trying to live without intimate, Christian friendship. It was too uncomfortable for me, too messy. The investment didn’t seem to match the payout. But living life outside the circle was like being a fish in a mud puddle: I could survive, but I sure didn’t thrive. My patient, loving, imperfect friends have pulled me out into deeper waters again and again.

I used to think this verse from Acts 4 meant the church shared all their “stuff.” Maybe they rotated the ancient equivalent of lawn mowers and weed eaters, or pooled their money to get a better rate at the fish market. There may have been an element of that, but I’m now convinced they had more than stuff in common.

They shared their gifts, recognizing that talents and abilities are given by God “for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

They shared their inheritance, recognizing that we’ve been adopted into the same family by the will of the Father (Romans 8:15-17).

They shared a calling, recognizing that we can spend our lives building individual little kingdoms, destined to pass away, or we can join forces to build the only Kingdom promised to stand forever (2 Samuel 7:16).

If the church in Acts was anything like my community of friends, they shared their burdens too. When the weight of hurt or disappointment or rejection becomes too heavy for one of us to carry, we lay it down, knowing someone else in the circle will pick it up.

Just this week, I was hauling a load of heartache so big I worried it might bury me. My friends stepped in and said, “Let us carry this with you.” My circumstances didn’t change, my heart didn’t instantly mend, but I could stand up straight again. When life knocked me down, these friends picked me up. This is a picture of hospitality.

The way we in the Church respond to each other in the toughest times shoots up a flare. It tells a watching world that we are broken and busy people, eternally bound together with the unbreakable chord of Christ’s love.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- John 13:35

Yes, hospitality is worth extending because of the benefits it affords us, but there’s a bigger story being told. Jesus knows we’re His disciples based on evidence found in our hearts. The world knows we’re His disciples based on evidence found in our homes.

Your house isn’t big enough, your floors aren’t clean enough, your cooking skills aren’t accomplished enough. Show hospitality anyway. Our hearts and lives are messy. But when we open our doors and our arms, we’re telling the story of Christ’s love.

If you’re living in a fishbowl, gulping and gasping for air, allow hospitality to pull you into deeper waters. Because it’s not just about gathering; it’s about giving. It’s not about neat and tidy; it’s about the poor and needy. It’s not about you. It’s about Christ and His Church.

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Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

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  • I would love to be a part of a church community and start showing hospitality in this way, but it’s so difficult to choose where to go at the moment. I recently got married, and my husband and I are torn between churches (his and mine). I am flexible enough to where I can serve in either one, and have relationships with people in both churches, and my husband isn’t sure which one he likes better (mine is a little more conservative, and his is more liberal, but both have pros and cons). I have no idea what to do. Do I push us one way or another? Or do I wait for him to find somewhere to serve? I’ve been trying to do the latter, but it seems like it’s taking forever. I want him to lead our family one way or another (I want him to have the final say, although we both talk about the decision a lot), but it seems like time is passing, and we still don’t belong anywhere. What do I do as a young wife? Do I just wait?

    • April

      Vita, Trust the Lord. The Lord will lead you both. First find a church you both like. No church​ is perfect -because we are there. Be a part of the church and God will provide the time and place to serve. Get to know and love your brothers and sisters.

    • Maddie

      Good morning! Something that my husband and I have found helpful is to give ourselves a deadline. When we have big choices to make we will write down specially what we are praying about, agree on a goal end date, and pray about it separately. When we come back together we talk about what the Lord put on our hearts and usually end up coming to a decision. Having a goal end date helps my husband a lot, it helps him realize there needs to be a choice made and soon, not just leaving it so wide open. Hope this helps you. Blessings.

    • JANE Farrer

      Yes, dear Vita, you just wait. Wait on God, by waiting for your husband’s wise decision. God makes all things beautiful in HIS time. Eccles 3:11

  • I agree with Alicia Mack, this passage reminds me of my small group we call Lifegroup. We do life together, confide in one another (yes, the bad stuff too) and pray for one another. It is a real community with real love, not superficial and fake “everything is fine” group. This group and my church have given me peace and strength to grow as a member of God’s community and my church community through faith and love. Thanking God for putting these wonderful people in my path to worship and watch God’s power in our lives.

    • She Reads Truth

      What a beautiful thing you have found, Marsha! So grateful when the Lord brings women into community with their sisters and allows them to have deep, rich and meaningful relationships. Encouraged by this!

      – Stormye

  • I too read these verses and thought “sharing of stuff.” I love the emphasis on sharing burdens and the messiness of life, including sharing forgiveness with each other as Christ forgave us instead of nurturing offenses.

  • Kensley Goodman

    My pastor is preaching a sermon centered around this series of devotions. Yesterday he said the “point of the church is to bring sinners to repentance.” “There are none to dirty or to far gone, we are all the body of Christ.” I know the Lord is speaking to me but I am praying for opportunity to show itself where I may use what he is teaching me.

  • Alicia Mack

    This passage reminds me of my small group. We are a group of ladies, of all ages, different backgrounds, and were raised differently in the church. However, now we attend the same church and we are growing together in Christ. The power in numbers are incredible!

  • Alicia Mack

    This passage reminds me of my small group. We are a group of ladies, of all ages, different backgrounds, and were raised differently in the church. However, now we attend the same church and we are growing together in Christ. The power in numbers is incredible!

  • Misty Prochaska

    I also can’t get settled into a church. We are a very liberal family, and don’t feel like we can take our kids to a church where they will be taught to not accept people for various reasons. So most churches that we have tried are not biblically focused enough for me. If we were in a bigger city, I know there would be options, but for now, I study scripture alone- which can be really challenging.

    • James Muniz

      Im sorry to hear that Misty, I really do hope you can find maybe not a church but at least someone you can read and discuss scripture with. Is so hard to live this life alone, we were made for community. I pray for God to place people in your path that will help you to continue to grow spiritually.

    • Charissa

      Hi Misty, are their any Anglican or Episcopalian churches near you? They might be a good fit. All the best on your journey.

    • Amanda

      Also keep in mind that every church, every single one, is made up of human beings. Human beings will never be perfect until Christ perfects us in Heaven. Therefore no church will ever be perfect. I know it is important to find one that aligns more with your beliefs and worship style, it took my husband and I a while to find one when we relocated last year. But we prayed for God’s guidance and to open our hearts. We usually don’t like large churches, but one particular church kept cropping up on Facebook, in conversations, and in our thoughts, so we finally tried it and, guess what? We LOVE it! It broke the stereotypes we held, and if we hadn’t been willing to be open-minded and trusting in God to guide us to the right place, we probably never would have tried it.

    • Ingrid

      Try a Home Church, you can easily start one in your home. That’s what we do, we get together and study Gods word and talk about what it is saying to us at the time. Try googling one in your area, we live it and God really shows up.

  • I so appreciated this! Thanks for the beautiful reminder!

  • Diane Huntsman

    All the love!! All the crying emojis right here!! I forget to check back after a write something on here and then all the sudden I remembered about my pouting post and thought to check back!! I never expected all this love and affirmation!! Seriously girls I’m so touched and so encouraged!! I wish we could all have tea together!! Your encouragement has brought such joy!! Thank you thank you thank you!! May our Lord bless each of you for taking the time to respond to my aching heart today!! Love and hugs!! Xoxo xoxo

  • Keri McCue

    I, too have struggled with Christiancommunity! And honestly, I still do. Sometimes I don’t feel like it’s worth it. So often I feel overwhelmed by the lack of care people have to live for Christ. So often we are consumed with earthly things and it’s exhausting trying to encourage others to be Christ-minded…and exhausting trying to find a group to encourage me when I need that same push! I am trying, and will continue to try but finding true community is stinkin’ hard!!

    http://www.littlelightonahill.com

    • Gema Muniz

      I totally understand where you are coming from, I have also felt the same way, but my conclusion to this is that you are spiritually more in tune with Christ than some other people. But Keri dont let thid discourage you instead you should use that gift and bring others closer to Christ, you will be surprised how fufilling it is to see lives changed because you took the time to poor into their lives. I hope this helps you and encourages you sister. God bless.

    • Katie

      Keri, I’m right there with you in this season. I listened to a really encouraging podcast series on Revive Our Hearts by Nancy demoss wolgemuth on ministry this week. It really was a great encouragement to my heart on exactly what you spoke of! Ministry is tiring and exhausting!

  • Alexis Maycock

    Ohh this study has been speaking volumes to me so far this month. The line that talks about your house not being big enough, floors not being clean enough, etc- those have been my very excuses for not showing hospitality. Thinking that I need to have everything perfect before I can share my home..my self is such a false premise. I will never be perfect and I have so been missing out on the gift that is hospitality. I am going to be intentional this year about opening up my little apartment, untidiness and all to those who are in need. After all it isn’t about me it is all about allowing God to work through me to reach His people.

  • Wendy Kessler

    It is always special to glimpse into another person’s heart and recognize the same movement of the Holy Spirit that’s working in mine. I too have a passion to practice numerous forms of hospitality and talk with others about the value of investing in community. I am inspired by your reflections this morning that expand my understanding of the Acts 4 passage through the lens of sharing the intangible gifts we receive through our holy inheritance, as well as our material possessions. Thank you!

  • Diane Huntsman

    But what if church wounds are so deep and church people scare you to death?!? What if you’re getting older and you just don’t even feel needed or wanted in the western “cool” church of today? What if you have learned through experience that you are only truly valuable to the church when you are useful to the church? I long for this buzz word ‘community’ that is thrown around in today’s church culture and yet my wounds are still oozing fresh pain even though 6 years have passed.. I know it sounds like I’m still wallowing in self pity, but I’m truly just trying to figure it all out.. the story is way to long to share on here, but I figure there might be one or two of you on here that relate.. at age 49 it’s such a weird season, kids are grown and gone, the older Titus 2 role seems to be replaced by blogs and it feels like a very lonely season.. wishing I had that community spoken of but alas it is a foreign concept. Thanks for reading and my pity party rant is now over.. if anyone feels so inclined to pray for me in this dilemma for community, I would be grateful! Xo

    • Rachel

      There is a church out there that needs you. Especially to disciple younger women. You don’t have to have it all together (it’s better if you don’t) to disciple others. I am surrounded by women who want more than blogs and books. They want someone to sit with them and be open with them. They want authenticity. It often feels like the older women around us cannot be bothered to look around at the younger women that need guidance. We fool ourselves into thinking that no one else wants this, but I encourage you to assume that others want it as much as you do. You just might be the one that needs to initiate it.

      • Michelle

        Diane, I will pray for you. I am in a similar situation. However God still wants to use you to impact others and grow you at the same time. Although, there are most certainly growing pains along the way. Lean into his direction and trust his ways.

      • C Gunckel

        Thank you both for your comments, as an older woman, 70, (gosh did I really just say that) I encourage you to not be dissuaded by personalities but to find a church home where the gospel of Jesus Christ is being spoken and lived out and get involved. Is this risky? Of course it is but I have found most of the time all those people that liked to show they had it all together really did not. Sometimes they were as broken as I felt. I just have chosen to realize that even if…..I needed to be a part of a church body and fully invested in it. Do I sometimes still get offended, yes I do but I choose to forgive and move on. Praying you will not let the devil have his way and keep you from being all you can be for His kingdom. Much love and prayers being sent your way for healing and a church home where you can be part of an imperfect family, heaven bound for His glory.

    • Veronica

      Praying for you! My heart aches for you. I remember a woman about your age sharing the same agony at a women’s group I was leading. Despite what culture says or what you are feeling, I want you to know that you are CRUCIAL to the growth and health of the church whether they know it or not. Today’s age is different, but your role is not any less important. I am so sorry about the pain the church has caused you in the past- keep pursuing your perfect Father. The younger generation has so much to learn from you, and eventually you will be seen and known. For now, take comfort in the fact that you are already FULLY KNOWN and seen by your Father, who has a purpose and plan for you even still. Praying for you.

    • Irina

      Diane, praying that you find likeminded people in your area that you could share your faith and longing with. I’m almost 49, but still busy with my teenager kids and mostly is around moms who are in their late 30s. They need my experience as my oldest is out of home, he is 26, and I need their fresh view on a teenage life. But moreover, we enjoy our belonging to God’s family . Hugging you, my dear sister, and praying that our mighty God will send someone on your way…

    • KimN

      Hi Diane! I’m sorry you’re struggling with this lonely time. I do agree with Rachel that there are women that would love to draw from your life experiences. You are wanted and needed. I know that I have been blessed often by your postings here so thank you!!!
      I will be praying for you as you seek God’s will for where He wants you. From my own life experience, I have learned to say that while I may not trust a certain individual, I do trust God and His will for my life. Trust Him and go where He sends you! His timing is perfect and He’s preparing a place in your heart and hearts around you. Love and prayers to you today!!!

    • Emily

      Diane, I hope you find encouragement in this group today with this struggle you’re facing! As a young mom with a toddler, I can say with reasonable certainty there are young moms in your area who could benefit from your friendship and experience. I know I relish friendships with moms whose children are older/grown who aren’t family members. You have valuable life experience you can share, and you may find community in the most unexpected place!

      • Katie

        What emily said!!!! Yes! I’m 28 with three small children and “we” need you! Blogs are great but no substitute for real friendships and mentorship.

  • Stephanie

    As a serious introvert, finding a church has been really hard for me. After a year and a half of living in a new place, I think we have finally found the one, thank you lord! Please pray for us that we are able to form relationships there and that my anxiety doesn’t get in the way of that happening. Thank you.

    • Gina

      Me too. We go to a great church…but it is exhausting to me when our church is growing and I am sitting by someone I barely know. (I know it is good that it is growing), and do not get me wrong, I love people, and when I am in the open I can cover up my introvertness (lol), but then when I come home I am drained.
      So lately I have been sad…because we are in this place with no family around. We have been for 10 years..and I have always wanted to be…but moreso now for the kids. My boy is introverted too, but I have seen him with his cousins. Family does not have the same draining effect.
      I need prayer that I will be content, and that I can reach out just a bit. It is not a personality flaw to be an introvert…but I think it becomes one, or anything for that matter, when we let it do the controlling.
      So Stephanie I will pray for you…that things will be comfortable, that people call you by name, and that you feel at home ;) We intro’s have to stick together :)

    • Tay

      Another fellow introvert here :) I so wish I had a group of Christian friends, it is something I have been praying for. It’s hard to be a Christian alone without community, and I usually use my shyness as a cop out. I will pray for you both, as I know what a struggle being an introvert can be!

    • Gema Muniz

      Oh ladies! I do pray for you to not allow the fear to hold you back from building a christian community. God has called us to be uncomfortable not to just sit down and get comfortable in this world. Please step out in faith and join a group in your church or try to get involved, you will be surprised on how God will bless you by putting people in your life that will help you in your christian walk. God bless you ladies.

  • This was great! Thanks!

  • Beautiful post Erin. May we all remember it’s all about the heart. It’s not about us, it’s about loving others as he called us to do so.

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • This devotion was such a wonderful reminder that we are all merely sojourners making our way through life. However, we are not created to go it alone but to realize we have each other. Jesus Christ came down and refused to have a “fishbowl” mentality, he reached the broken, the desolate, the lonely. Growing up as a ministers daughter I was in the “spotlight” every Sunday, there were church members bold enough to question my lack of wearing stocking during the hot summer months or comment about the amount of makeup on my face. Having this perspective made me realize that in the church and out of the church we are all the same, human. We fall short daily but thanks be to God for His grace and mercy, so let us continue to cling to Gods word for direction and to each other knowing that at the end of the day, All is well.

  • I think it is important to remember that the Church is not a physical building. It originally comes from the Greek word ekklesia meaning “an assembly”. Any time we gather together we are The Church! How wonderful to know that inviting people over to study God’s Word, pray together, uplift each other, or have a meal together, we are The Church. Let’s gather together in many places and forms, sharing our gifts, or time, and our love for each other.

  • We are strong through Christ as individuals but we become an army when we come together. Sometimes it’s not enough to do it alone or even bearable. No church is perfect but if they share the same love and word of God, it’s good to have a relationship for the blessed times and the struggles.

  • Sarah Grube

    Question ladies:
    my close friend says she feels judged at every church she goes to. Even when she goes to churches with close friends who know her. She no longer goes because she feels it’s not important and doesn’t want to be judged for being “different.” How do we emphasize the need for the community of the church? Obviously, we pray for God to open her heart and love her unconditionally. Is there anything else we should say? My church history hasn’t been all roses and warm fuzzies but I don’t know what I would do without my church family now.

    • Cristy

      The enemy has been at work on your friend and she has bought his lie repeatedly. If worship with fellow believers wasn’t so important, he would not fight us on it. I would tell your friend to stop looking for the perfect church for her and start praying for God to reveal where He wants to plant her – then be obedient. This is about Him and His plan, not our comforts or preferences. The beautiful thing though, is that God blesses us through that obedience – she will find a fullness that she couldn’t have imagined on her own.

    • candacejo

      So sorry your friend is struggling with planting herself and her family in a good church. It’s hard, if she has been hurt in the church, to trust again. I have seen that as a pastor’s wife over and over again. They come to forget that they will find PEOPLE in every church and people are not perfect. But God is. We go because of Him and we learn to love the people and their imperfections, realizing we have our own that we need perfected. I don’t know if maybe this post will help her or not, you know your friend so you decide that. It’s titled, We Don’t Do the Church Thing. Maybe it will strike a chord but the biggest help is your friendship and encouragement and of course your prayers. ♥ http://www.hopeinthehealing.com/2013/09/03/we-dont-do-the-church-thing/

      • Hilary

        I enjoyed reading your post and also learning the meaning of your alter ego screen name. :) Ooo boy, Glatis. lol. Have a great day!

  • this is such a great reminder that we are meant to be a community. it was hard to find a church i liked since moving. i would try to worship at home by streaming the service from my old church weekly but that didn’t feel whole. I’m so thankful now that I have found a church community that fits and I have joined a study group.

  • Danielle Frakes

    God calls us into community and wants us to share the love of Christ with others! It’s not easy but worth it

  • Churchmouse

    Oh one more little note : the flow chart on pages 58&59 of the study guide – awesome! Creatively made the point! In all, to all, love!

  • Churchmouse

    I have done this Christian thing as a lone Ranger and that’s just what I got: loneliness. I did this Christian thing in one community and have the shrapnel to prove I was hit by their “friendly fire.” Yes, maneuvering this Christian thing is messy, certainly not neat and tidy. BUT GOD would not let me retreat. He graciously provided a small group willing to live the authentic Christian thing and that has made all the difference. We mutually open our arms and our hearts into each other’s messy. So grateful for those women -and for this SRT community which gives worldwide perspective on doing this Christian thing well. I love the thoughtful challenge given by the combination of the selected Scriptures and the devotions. This Christian thing is not neat and tidy but it is doable in authentic community where guards are down and the Holy Spirit is given free reign. Sisters, do not give up. Many times I wanted to just quit trying BUT GOD…There is joy! Thank you to my small group and to SRT for being here. Blessings to all!

    • Heather (MNmomma)

      praying for a group like that for myself……building friendships in our new church and bit by bit feeling more like a part of something, but still not feeling “safe” – not quite to the point where I would be able to share the messy and not fear some sort of a negative response (my own shrapnel from experiences with “Christian” women in the past)…..so thankful for SRT and our group here <3

      • Hilary

        Oh, I am praying the same thing for myself, Heather. I would love to have community like that. Thankful for these SRT girls too, and I’ll pray now that God will provide this for you.

    • Suzanne

      Amen!

  • “Because it’s not just about gathering; it’s about giving. It’s not about neat and tidy; it’s about the poor and needy. It’s not about you. It’s about Christ and His Church”. God please forgive me for using these excuses for not extending myself and my home. Help me to focus on the need and how I can be a blessing .

  • This was SO what I needed to read today! “Your house isn’t big enough, your floors aren’t clean enough, your cooking skills aren’t accomplished enough. Show hospitality anyway. Our hearts and lives are messy. But when we open our doors and our arms, we’re telling the story of Christ’s love.” Amen and amen!!

  • Kelly R Smith

    “Jesus knows we’re His disciples based on evidence found in our hearts. The world knows we’re His disciples based on evidence found in our homes.” Yes! I love everything about today’s reading, Erin. Thank you!

  • This spoke to me on a deep level. In the last few months, I’ve become involved with the local church here where I live. It’s messy due to a language barrier that reduces everyday. But I’ve learned that in the family, The LORD gives us a heart understanding for one another that helps us to understand one another in ways that make no sense. And beautiful friendships with some local girls have resulted in a willingness to be vulnerable, bad at language, but there. I’ve been wanting to open my home to these ladies for a while to do some study of the word together, but have been afraid, die to the size of my apartment and some unbelieving roommates. I wonder though, Would hosting this show my roommates an even better glimpse of what the body of Christ is, and in turn show them better who Jesus is?
    My dear sisters, please pray with me for this, I long to get here ladies in group Bible study and am searching for the best way to do this.

  • I have a friend that is dying… and its breaking my heart, ….., but I know that Gods got this…. ‘Better is one day in your courts, than a thousand elsewhere…’ not just a song, true words, Psalm 84:10….This world is not our home, we are just passing through, yet no matter how much we hear it, or even know it as Christians, and we believe in the life of the world to come, we get stuck thinking here and now thoughts… it is our default, and Praise God He understands.
    I have been visiting my friend frequently, and there have been days when I don’t get to see her, for reasons of pain, tiredness…. but the one thing I always do is stop with the family…. the Christ in me urges me to be with the family, spend time with them… talk to them, pray with them, hug them… love them. A journey like this is not meant to be walked alone, though our dear one is going home to be with the Lord, we left here this side of eternity, need one another to see us through…
    Absolutely, life is messy, never straight forward, yet, walking alongside another in a mess, the mess is shared and therefore there comes a light where perhaps it could not be seen before…
    We are a community for a reason, life was not meant to be lived alone, to struggle through alone…God would have stopped at Adam otherwise….
    Pretty much one of the last things Jesus said was to his disciples and his mother, Mary. ( John 19:26-27) Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there, so He said to His mother, He is you son.’ Then He said to his disciple, ‘She is your mother….’ Look after each other, love each other, help , protect, be there for each other…

    The way we in the Church respond to each other in the toughest times shoots up a flare. It tells a watching world that we are broken and busy people, eternally bound together with the unbreakable chord of Christ’s love….

    I love this… if I can do but a fraction of what I am called to do…

    Hospitality is spelt …Love..

    Hospitality is spelt… open arms..

    Hospitality is spelt…. time given that is a blessing to another…

    Hospitality is simply telling the story of Christs love….in words, actions or deeds…

    I have waffled….sorry.

    Erin, sending you some love and hugs wrapped hope and joy, across the pond, and praying peace for you throughout this time…thank you for your contibution to my growth in the Word and my journey..xxx

    Sisters, this is a day the Lord has made, let us go out rejoicing…… Amen.
    Love to all…xxx

  • So good!

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