By Shawn Lazar
What does a practical “Christian spirituality” look like? That’s what I’m trying to understand as I seek to follow the Lord more closely and to raise my kids to do the same.
The problem those of us in the Free Grace movement face is that so much of today’s teaching about “spirituality” assumes a salvation-byworks gospel, which inevitably distorts the whole venture. If you think eternal salvation depends on how well you climb the ladder to heaven, your approach to spirituality will be very different from someone who knows he is justified by faith
apart from works.
So, given salvation by grace, what does Christian spirituality look like?
I think it is down-to-earth, and practical, and often focused on loving your neighbors (instead of, say, sitting in front of a candle and trying to clear your mind). And a part of loving your neighbor means showing hospitality. For example:
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling (1 Pet 4:8-9, emphasis added).
Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another…given to hospitality (Rom 12:10, 13b, emphasis added).
Did you know that showing hospitality is implied in the Biblical command to love? How often do you do that?
In The Hospitality Commands (which I highly recommend), Alexander Strauch points to the very central role that hospitality played in the lives of the first Christians and the impact that hospitality can have on your local church:
I don’t think most Christians today understand how essential hospitality is to fanning the flames of love and strengthening the Christian family. Hospitality fleshes out love in a uniquely personal and sacrificial way. Through the ministry of hospitality, we share our most prized possessions. We share our family, home, finances, food, privacy, and time. Indeed, we share our very lives. So, hospitality is always costly. Through the ministry of hospitality, we provide friendship, acceptance, fellowship, refreshment, comfort, and love in one of the richest and deepest ways possible for humans to understand. Unless we open the doors of our homes to one another, the reality of the local church as a close-knit family of loving brothers and sisters is only a theory (p. 17).
Have you ever thought about your progress in the spiritual life in terms of having people over to eat?
Speaking for myself, I know there are many people in my little church that I’ve never had over at my house. Frankly, with three little kids leaving a trail of destruction wherever they go, having people over isn’t exactly my favorite thing to do. But maybe I have to change my thinking, put my embarrassment aside, and live up to those NT hospitality commands.
The command is not to show hospitality when it’s convenient and you can show off your nice house. The command is to show hospitality to your neighbor because they’ll benefit from your act of love.
Is there someone you can invite over to your house this week? A missionary? A loner? A newcomer? A visitor? Maybe someone in your church? That might be the act of concrete love that builds up your local expression of the Body of Christ.
Shawn Lazar lives in Denton, TX, with his wife Abby and their three children.