Several years ago I read a Missions Conference brochure. It said, “We are a sent people witnessing to salvation in Christ and participating to build up the Church. Our mission (a) begins in worship, (b) ministers in evangelism and compassion, (c) encourages believers toward Christian maturity through discipleship, and (d) prepares women, men, teens and children for service.” Our mission includes reaching out to others. And by reaching out, more and more of our neighbors and colleagues will find their way to Christ (and your church).
We are always preparing for this mission of demonstrating biblical love to others — not as an “evangelism program,” but as a natural display of Christ’s love to others. Because we have relationships with unbelieving neighbors and those in and near our workplaces, we can easily invite them to home or work Bible studies and worship. And we should seek after our neighbor’s eternal good and be involved in friendly evangelism, blessing them in spiritual ways.
The Beatitudes speak about our spiritual blessing in Christ (Matthew 5:1-12 and Luke 6:20-26): Blessed are poor in spirit, Blessed are those who mourn, Blessed are the meek, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Blessed are the merciful, Blessed are the pure in heart, Blessed are the peacemakers, and Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness. Here Jesus describes the riches that belong to those who are his. The Beatitudes demonstrate that heavenly blessedness is the opposite of worldly desire of monetary wealth, merriment, abundance, etc. The Beatitudes describe our riches in Christ and what is possible to unbelievers, too.
But there are not only beatitudes, there are also hospitalitudes. Here is how Lisa Tatlock describes them in her book, Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others
- Blessed are those who practice biblical hospitality, because in so doing, they are demonstrating their love for God (1 John 3:17-18).
- Blessed are those who "pursue the love of strangers," for they are choosing to obey their heavenly Father's command and modeling his character (Rom 12:13b).
- Blessed are those who include people of all cultures on their guest list, for in this manner they are demonstrating the expansive love of their heavenly Father (John 3:16).
- Blessed are those who develop hospitality management skills, for in this way they are capable of being faithful stewards of all that our Lord has provided for them (1 Cor 4:2).
- Blessed are those who intentionally extend hospitality to "the others" — singles, widows, the grieving, and those experiencing food insecurity — for they are choosing to live out biblical compassion (James 2:14-16).
- Blessed are those whose homes are both a place of refuge and a center for evangelism, for they are glorifying their heavenly Father by their actions (1 Pet 2:11-12) and fulfilling his instructions "to do the work of an evangelist" (2 Tim 4:5).
- Blessed are those who do not become disillusioned in practicing biblical hospitality, for they understand that in due time they will reap if they do not grow weary (Gal 6:9).
- Blessed are those who acknowledge that they are unable to practice biblical hospitality in their own strength, for by this means they learn that our Lord's power overcomes their weaknesses and allows them to become vessels used for his honor and glory (2 Cor 12:9-10; Phil 4:13).
Do you remember in John 11, Jesus said to the crowd, “Unbind him. Let him go”? He called Lazarus from the grave, but gave the task of unwrapping the grave cloths to his disciples. Your unbelieving friends, neighbors, and colleagues are in need. They are in bondage to paganism, guilt, shame, addictions, and every other kind of bondage. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1). Help set others free. Make a difference. Jesus did not unbind Lazarus, but invited others to co-labor with him.
Lazarus could not unbind himself. He needed others to help do it. It is my prayer that you will help and bless others as you have been blessed. May Christ’s mission be evident in your lives.