February 20, 2017

Christian Hospitality and Preparedness

CrossAndCrown

During a recent radio interview on The 21st Century Homekeeper Radio Program, a few of Sylvia’s listeners said they would like to know where a Christian should stand on providing for others when things have gone bad.  This is something I have touched on before, so I was familiar with the scriptures, and gave an answer based on my understanding of them.  After the interview something was gnawing at me about the questions and my answer, so I did a bit more digging and realized what I had failed to do.  I failed to take the scriptures into the context of the time and culture in which they were written. I’ve said before that context is king.  It can completely change the meaning of any ancient text.

I don’t know that I would say my answer in the interview was wrong, but maybe just not as good as it should have been.   In researching the context to get a better understanding of the scriptures, I had my mind changed, if only slightly, so I thought I would share with you my discovery.

 

Hospitality

The word hospitality in modern times, to me at least, makes one think of someone who welcomes you to their home and puts on a nice meal, then thanks you for coming as you leave that evening.  But in ancient times people had a different understanding of the word.  I found a book called “Entertaining Angels: Early Christian Hospitality in its Mediterranean Setting”.  I didn’t read the book, but was able to find large sections available on the university website where the author teaches,  as well as some critiques of it.

In one section on hospitality in the times of the New Testament the author says:

“Today we think of hospitality as the custom of feeding family, friends, and neighbors in our homes or hosting these people for a night or two. The writers of the New Testament, however, were working with a significantly different definition of hospitality or xenia. The ancient custom of hospitality revolved around the practice of welcoming strangers or travelers into one’s home while promising to provide them with provisions and protection.  Hospitality in the first century could be a very risky venture, just as taking strangers into one’s home is a dangerous decision in many corners of the world today. Nevertheless, in the books of Luke and Acts we see an appeal for Jesus’ disciples to practice hospitality in their lives and ministries.”

In one critique I read, we are given a better idea of what hospitality looked like in Greco-Roman, Jewish and early Christian cultures.  The other two are worth reading as they did have influence on the early Christian church.  I don’t want to copy and paste it all, so here is the Christian section:

“Because all the first Christians were Jews, and the next round primarily Greeks or Romans, it causes no surprise to see most of the elements surveyed already recurring in early Christianity. Particularly important was the practice of extending hospitality to traveling missionaries– a boon to the recipients in a world without consistently safe, wholesome forms of public lodging but potentially a drain on the church’s resources, especially when itinerants overstayed their welcome. Without this background, it remains harder to understand Paul’s recurring requests for hospitality for himself and his representative or to make sense of Didache’s criterion of length of stay by a visitor for determining if he or she was a true or false prophet! A rereading of John 4 on the assumption that Jesus was asking for hospitality from the Samaritan woman discloses several new insights not regularly rehearsed in the standard expositions. The same may be said on a smaller scale of 2 John, while Matt 10:14 and 42, like Matt 25:31-46, make more sense once it is recognized that “the host’s extension of hospitality to a traveling teacher was an indication that the host accepted or agreed with the teaching of the traveling teacher” (123). By the third century, however, Christian practice underwent a dramatic shift as hospitality was placed under the authority of bishops and hospitality “morphed” into a charitable service performed by entire congregations and supported by treasuries of funds to which they donated.”

Hospitality amongst Christians has always been a way for us to share Christ’s love, but over the centuries, how we show hospitality has changed.  At least in the USA hospitality is often similar to how is was practiced in the third century.  Tithes and offerings are used to launch and support ministries and missionaries abroad.
BibleScripture

There are far more scriptures on hospitality than I can list and expect you to read this entire article, so I will post a few that I think are relevant.   A point to keep in mind is that these scriptures were meant to be lived by every day.  They aren’t instructions for what is acceptable to Christ when faced with prolonged hardship.

 

1 Peter 4:9

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

 

Romans 12:13

“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

 

Proverbs 31:20

“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”

 

Matthew 25:40

The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

 

Hebrews 13:2

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.”

 

Hebrews 13:1-2

“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it”

 

Luke 11:5-8

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[a] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.”

I must say that I have a lot to learn in terms of hospitality.  If you come yelling and knocking on my door in the middle of the night, you’ll find yourself on the business end of Christopher.  But I digress.  This verse isn’t really about hospitality; Jesus had just delivered the Lord’s Prayer, and is showing the Disciples how to pray and seek our loving Father.  I list it as I think this is one verse where, taken out of context, someone could say we should do whatever is necessary to be hospitable.

One of the resources I used lists many scriptures on hospitality , from both the Old and New Testaments.  I found there are four main types of verses on hospitality; hospitality to complete strangers, hospitality to people in need, hospitality as a character trait and hospitality to brothers and sisters in the faith.  The most common type I found is hospitality toward others in the faith.

 

Preparedness

Does this then mean that we do not need to show generosity or hospitality when times are hard?  No, not at all!  There are, after all, verses on helping those in need.  In my mind that is both for the every day and for when times are hard.

Because the Bible doesn’t speak on how to act in a survival situation we have to look at other scriptures and see if we can draw any conclusions.   Of course the scriptures on how to act every day still apply, but what other wisdom on the subject can we glean from the Word of God?

1 Timothy 5:8 says: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

That verse goes for everyone, so does Proverbs 27:12, which states:

“A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

I bring these two verses up because we tend to see one side of the coin.  We see that if we don’t want to be seen as worse than an unbeliever, we must meet our family’s needs.  We see that if we want to be wise, we must prepare to mitigate dangers.  We, however, might not give a lot of thought to those who don’t meet their family’s needs, or who didn’t see danger because they either weren’t looking, or saw it and decided not to do anything.

Let’s think about those people for a minute.  Do you think God is following them around with a pillow to protect them from hitting the hard ground?  I don’t!  I think God makes it perfectly clear that there are rewards and consequences. Those individuals weren’t motivated by prudence for meeting their family’s needs in good and bad times.  The consequences are clear to me.

I think modern American Christianity has gone too far building “our buddy Jesus”, and forgotten that, while He is loving, He is also fierce and to be feared.  There are more examples than I can count in the Bible of God giving people a choice.  When they chose to not follow His way, being turned to a pillar of salt, being forced to wander the desert for another forty years, being conquered by other nations and being led into slavery.

Some might say that all of those are Old Testament references.  While true, they are no less relevant.  Also, before Christ was born human, the only way to have sins redeemed was through human actions; by following God’s Law, and by making sacrifices.  After Jesus dies on the cross, the gift of salvation is available to anyone; choose it and you will be rewarded with eternity in His presence.  If you opt out of salvation, it puts you outside of His presence, paying for your sins for eternity.

When the question is asked if we’ll help those in need after it has hit the fan, I have seen many Prepper’s answer that they would help where they can but that they will not help those who come with their hand out and are not willing to help.  In light of my current research, what do I think about that type of response?  I think for the most part it’s a perfectly fine answer for a Christian to give.

Some might call me selfish for such an answer.  To them I say this: I am prepared to meet the needs of my family and will help where I am led and am able.  To me it sounds more selfish for someone who didn’t prepare to meet the needs of their family showing up uninvited, with their hand out, expecting to be fed, clothed and protected, all for the sheer act of drawing breath.

However, if you are someone who feels you must prepare to take care of others in times of great need, I have a solution!  God only asks we give Him ten percent.  I do not believe He would ask us to give to others more than He asks for Himself.  So set aside ten percent of your preparations for others.  This doesn’t have to be expensive food.  It can be made up of staples; rice, beans, popcorn seeds, sugar and on and on.  This would mean that if you have a year’s food stored for your family, you would either have another (roughly) month and a half stored to give away, or give away a month and a half leaving your family with ten and a half months’ worth of food.

 

Summary

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Christ commanded us to love one another.  Hospitality is one way to do this.  We are also called to be the light of the world, which I covered in Why Should Christians, Specifically, Be Preparing?. We are also to help those in need, to be His hands and feet.  We, however, are not called to be someone’s emergency parachute.  Their lack of planning does not constitute your emergency.

I think this is one area that each of us must ask our loving Father for wisdom and guidance in how to act and how to prepare to be His hands and Feet.

I said I had my mind changed, if only slightly.  Currently Trudee and I support a few different ministries.  We feel blessed that God has allowed us the ability to help others in need; to be His hands and feet.  Before, I would have said that if things “hit the fan”, we would help others if/when we felt led.  After my research on hospitality, I say that if we feel blessed to be His hands and feet now, there will be so many more opportunities when “it hits the fan”.  We will still help if/when we are led, but I see it more of an opportunity to be used by God, than a Christian duty.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like we need to help everyone, especially those who might take advantage.  This goes for friends and family as well as strangers.

God is loving and, at times, meets the needs of someone in an emergency. He also loves us enough to give us free will and to let us face difficult consequences for poor choices, so that we may learn from them.  We should follow His example, as we are made in His image.

 

Closing

I want to close with an excerpt from “Entertaining Angels: Early Christian Hospitality in its Mediterranean Setting”

“These Lukan hospitality texts remain relevant for Christians today. Even more than in the ancient world, we encounter travelers and strangers from vastly different regions and cultures. Some are traveling by choice (e.g., students and immigrants), while others travel by necessity (e.g., evacuees from natural disasters and refugees from war-torn regions). In Luke’s writings, we hear a call to extend hospitality to these strangers in creative ways.

With the early Christians we should take wise steps to guard against those who might abuse generous hosts (Didache 11-12), but we may not neglect the Christian ministry of hospitality. As Jesus’ disciples, we should proactively seek to extend protection and provisions to strangers. As we do this, we may encounter God’s presence in the midst of our hospitality. We may well “entertain angels without knowing it.”

 

If you liked this article please think about sharing it on the social media listed below, thanks!

 

Comments

  1. Loved your article. I have struggled with the many people who say when times get tough they are coming to my house! Just a thought…I am beginning to raise rabbits for meat, basically to learn the skill…I live in the city. When people coming needing food I hope to be able to give them two bunnies from which they may begin to help feed their family, thanks to prolific breeding possibilities. Just a thought for some to consider.

    • Thank you, I’m glad you liked the article.

      You’ve got an interesting idea, I had a couple thoughts while reading it. You might want to document what you learn about raising and caring for the rabbits, and pass that along with people as well. Especially things like what to feed them, and any potential health issues. Otherwise people might get frustrated and just eat them vs starting their own rabbit farm.

  2. I have put together simple one-gallon mylar bags each containing 2 pounds of rice, 2 pounds of pasta, and one pound of beans. They will be handed out to those I feel led to help feed……at least it will keep them alive for a few days!!!

    • Sounds like a solid idea. I have mentions one other time about doing something similar and having the contents ready to go in a 5 gallon bucket. Just had it out and no one else knows what’s in it.

  3. So glad you wrote on this Chris! The Lord has begun putting this on my heart, as well.

    I’m in the habit of picking up a few extra cans of items in the grocery store for our own survival. No reason I can’t start extras for others into my food rotation. It’s one thing to offer food, but with no way to prep it, it may be of little help. I’m thinking about self-contained ‘kits’ that would include other basic inexpensive items that may help non-preppers get through a little longer.

    I noticed the other day that they also sell 2 gal buckets there, which I plan to start adding gradually as purchases in routine store visits. If there are children among the needy, 5 gal may be too much to carry. Empty coffee cans could even work and also become a pot to cook in, or a water carrier.

    They also sell cheap chaffing dish-type fuel canisters with a self-mounting cooking pot supports. Other inexpensive things that could go in these buckets…

    A roll of TP
    hand wipe towelettes
    Matches
    cotton ball/vaseline fire starters
    band aids
    small can opener (although pull-top food cans eliminate this need)

    Many stores offer travel-size sections where you can buy small versions of hand-sanitizer, soap, etc. Sometimes ponchos can be found cheaply to help protect from the elements. Flannel goes on sale in fabric stores to cut into blankets.

    I sometimes upgrade our camping/backpacking equipment (something my family loves to do), but feel like I should hang on to the old useable stuff to have available to give out.

    I’m looking for inexpensive water filters that would fit a standard water bottle, but haven’t found a good source yet. Ultimately, it would be better to “teach them to fish, rather than just feed them a fish”

    I was reading another blog about a group who buys inexpensive Bibles to include in their handout kits. I’m hoping to get others in my church involved, allowing bulk purchases of things to make these kits.

    Still thinking and praying about ideas on this subject. I think we should always have others’ needs in mind along the way, as we prep for our own family. Specifically, I pray for Holy Spirit discernment for all of us. Much is written on survival sites about marauders coming to take our supplies. In those cases we’ll have choices to make in how we respond. Having supplies available to give them, IMO, is preferable to self-defensive measures.

    Looking forward to reading others thoughts!

    Todd

    • Glad you liked it Todd. Here are just some quick thoughts from reading your post.

      While true a 5 gallon bucket might be to heavy for those with children, on the flip side those with kids would need more supplies.

      As to the water filter, you might be better served looking at a means to purify water instead of a water purifier. You can buy water purification tablets and stick a few in each bucket.

      I wrote an article based on an email from a reader on preserving God’s word. If you plan on adding Bibles, this is worth the read, I’ll link it below.

      Lastly on marauders, if you plan on giving these buckets away, do it as discretely as possible, let others know to keep it a secret. If the marauders do come, they’ll probably take everything, you can’t make deals with bullies in my experience. Once they know about you and make you a target, they only back off if you can make them not see you as a target.

  4. Carl Rooker says:

    Good article. I understand the problem of wanting to help, but knowing that sometimes helping only leads to dependency. Had a brother in law bad that way once.

    While we are supposed to be generous, especially with fellow Christians, Paul also tells us that, “…if someone will not work, neither let them eat.”

    So the question of what to do when the “smelly stuff hits the fan” is very relevant. There will be real needs, even among those who have prepped, depending on what is actually going on. There will also be those who simply want to take advantage of the free stuff.

    Keeping in mind that being generous will be a very powerful statement of our Lord’s Grace, a positive testomony of His love.

    So how about this idea. When it happens, be generous in His Name, but ask for barter. You have something they need, they may have something you need. Or they might have a service they can perform, that you could use. There will be some legitimate cases where we have to give and get nothing back. However, free-loaders will learn fast that they have to work for what they want.

    • I will help those that are in need and cannot help themselves. I like the barter idea, if they don’t have items to barter with, they can barter time.

  5. Chris, a very powerful article. I know that I am lacking in many areas of trust if you are an unknown to me. I pray that Jesus will led me in the right direction on this issue. I live in a border state and have seen many take advantage of the current system while doing nothing to help themselves, this is one reason I am so cynical of strangers. Yes, I have met some that truly do need the help but in all honesty I think they are rather rare. In the area where I live there is plenty of work. Most places have a hard time keeping workers. Most will just quit if they don’t like your rules or the work is a little tough and move on to the next job or get on welfare or food stamps or both. I pray that I will have enough insight to know the difference if ever I am faced with this decision. I know that I would help my family and neighbors or the young but after that I am just not sure. Thanks for the wonderful article and insight.

    • I do know what you mean, I am actually pretty cynical myself. I’m not proud of it, but I used to say I’m not racist, I don’t like anyone. I don’t know if it’s because its the side of themselves that shows so easily, or if I cam looking for it, but I often see the worst in people. I have had to ask God to let me see people with His eyes.

  6. Great article, suggestions and comments. Being experienced in handling traumatic events, one never knows how you are going to react when things happen unless you’ve been through them before. Even then it could be a toss up. That’s why this conversation is so important, IMO. There are some great suggestions here. Remember while handing out food or other commodities you’ll also have to be protecting yourself in ways we probably never had to before.
    If I’m allowed to hang around after collapse I hope to be able to teach others how to forage local wild foods and natural medicines. (Knowledge is the best Prep). Living off the land is hard physical work and this wore out body doesn’t like that much anymore so I hope I have compensated some with knowledge. I doubt I would be in the position to feed many except those under my direct care but I can teach them to trap food. I hope to also have a “Church” service and provide food after the service on a regular basis. Along with marrying, burying, counseling and peacekeeping I hope to be of service as the Lord sees fit for my local community. Other than that I hope to see miracles of multiplication from the Bread of Life. So, bottom line, my main hospitality would be sharing the knowledge the Lord has prompted me to learn. Hopefully I can barter that for turning ground a row or two in my garden.

  7. Nancy Libby says:

    I listened to the show and have two other scriptures to add. One being the Proverbs 31 Woman being able to laugh at the days to come because she has done everything she needs to do to care for her family. The other, in reference to the above topic, would be the story of Elijah relying on God during the famine. After being fed by ravens, God sent him to a woman who had only a little oil and a little flour left. She fed him and God supplied for her needs and the needs of those around her. Now, we can argue that Elijah didn’t prep. However, I would like to focus on the woman who shared the little she had, the heart to give to God’s prophet, and God blessed it. I think my sinful tendency would be.. “but we don’t have enough for ourselves” and stop there. But she did vocalize this, but provided for the prophet anyway… which God blessed. 😀

    • I have contemplated the verse on Elijah and what it means to preparedness. I think it has more to do with faith and obedience than anything else. If I knew God told me to get rid of all my preps and to solely depend on him, the way that Elijah knew he was being spoken to by God, well I hope I would be faithful and obedient.

      I do like this verse as it does leave room for the miraculous.

      • Chris, thanks for admitting you don’t see everyone in the best light. I have been struggling mightily with that of late, being intolerant of those who, in my opinion, made choices that are leading to the destruction of this country that I love so much. That includes family and friends.

        I asked a local pastor if he was telling his congregation to prepare. He said no, they’re trusting God to provide. That seemed unwise to me.

        On some other sites, people say they will hand out packages of ramen noodles. Certainly not the best nutrition but easy to transport and will cook quickly so that made some sense to me.

        • Oh if anything I was putting myself in to much of a positive light. There are times when I get so fed up with humanity that the sailor in me sneaks out and vents a little. Not proud of it.

          I think that local pastor is among the majority, I hope their eyes are opened before its to late.

  8. louise jacobs says:

    Many people are deluded, these days, I think, and don’t believe that bad times are coming. They have not bothered to learn survival skills like gardening or cooking from scratch. Unfortunately, their parents have not done their duty, so they can be forgiven, to a degree. I feel that it is my duty to educate those who will listen, and have found a few opportunities to show my “country skills” to my new urban neighbours. My other contribution is to share non-hybrid seeds that I have grown and collected over the years. I rather doubt that hungry people will ask for a meal, from what I have already experienced, is that they will help themselves when nobody’s looking.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Chris,
    I don’t usually comment, although I read your site. I don’t think you and T. have too much to worry about. You already give inspiration and specific information. I’d say your scales were pretty balanced just maintaining a site for hope and help and mental strength for the rest of us. I know you’ve helped me find balance a time or two.

    Several people have mentioned buckets. If there’s an indoor cat, Tidy Cat buckets with some of the non-sticky plumber’s tape are pretty secure and they don’t lose the space round buckets do. They also come in a variety of sizes. Local animal shelters might have them available if there’s not an indoor cat. Otherwise, bakeries get icing in various sized buckets and tubs.

    I like the “teach a man to fish” theory myself, as well. Yoyos or dowel-line combos are inexpensive and can fish on their own while tasks are accomplished.

    Re. water treatment, bleach has a shelf life, but can be inexpensively repackaged. There’s debate about the long-term health effects, but KMnO4 uses tiny, tiny amounts (a pinch of crystals) to treat water for an antiseptic wash and (a few crystals) to treat water for drinking. It’s far more inexpensive than “camping” tablets and the tabs we got in the military and has a longer shelf life than bleach or iodine. Best price I’ve found: http://ftffacoop.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=498

    I never read Proverbs 27:12 (22:03) with prepping in mind. Mine mention astute/clever/fore-thinker and hiding the face from evil or just hiding from evil, while the naive/bold continue on and face penalty. I’ve struggled with it and 27:17 before and never had a good answer as to how it should apply – were we meant to throw out caution and serve, or were we to hide, with hiding always equating to a negative for me (can’t spread light if it’s hidden, can’t hold ground for the meek if we’re in a cave). Now I see it as bee-butterfly, ant-grasshopper passage, as encouragement rather than unanswered question that pulls in both directions. Thank you.

    • Chris Ray says:

      Rebecca,

      Thanks for reading, and commenting when you do. I just hope to hear the Lord say “Well done good and faithful servant”. If this blog or anything that springs from it helps me sow the blessings He has given me, that is all the better.

      You give some pretty good ideas. I haven’t ever used KMnO4, does it give the water a funny taste?

      • Potassium permanganate has it’s own slight metallic-type side-of-the-tongue flavor, just like iodine & bleach. I grew up on contained well water, so all city water and water treatments taste funny to me. Long-term use (5-10 years+) can stain the teeth some. Consuming it mixed too strong (the goal is just ever so slightly tinged pink with a glass or bottle held against white paper) can have negative effects on the normal gut microflora. That’s also true with bleach & iodine, which is why you sometimes end up with intestinal issues if you put too much treatment into water while camping – it wasn’t actually the stick or the hotdogs.

        I like the KMnO4 because I can carry a tiny capful and treat 4 cases worth of water. I don’t plan to exclusively drink KMnO4-treated water in any emergency, so with any luck if I end up using it more frequently, I won’t stain my teeth. Without fluoride in water, we’re liable to have more cavities, so slightly pink teeth to go with the coffee stains will probably be the least of my concerns. It’s compact enough that for bags and fast water, it’s worth it to me. That said, apparently if it’s mixed with glycerine or glycol, it will spontaneously combust. Eek. I watch what it’s near and keep it away from kids. No biggie, to me, but something to maybe be aware of.

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