Radical Hospitality

Jim Gossweiler   -  

Reflecting on Abraham’s hospitality has lead me to see how I can become radical in showing hospitality to others. Genesis 18:2-8, a profound passage in the Bible, narrates the moment when three mysterious guests visited Abraham’s tent. These verses hold essential insights into themes of hospitality, divine presence, and the nature of God’s promises.

In the first verse, I am struck by Abraham’s immediate and profound hospitality. He not only lifts up his eyes attentively but also runs towards the strangers to greet them, ultimately bowing to the earth in reverence. This action exemplifies his eagerness to extend hospitality to these unknown guests, showing respect and reverence. The subsequent verse, Genesis 18:3, is particularly striking as Abraham addresses one of the three men as “Lord.” This hints at the divine nature of the visitors, setting the stage for a remarkable encounter. Abraham’s plea for them not to “pass by” underscores my desire for their presence and blessing.

As the narrative continues, in Genesis 18:4, I see Abraham’s immediate response to offer water for their feet and a place to rest. In the arid climate of the Middle East, washing one’s feet was a customary gesture of hospitality. Abraham’s offer is practical and symbolizes his readiness to serve and refresh his guests. Furthermore, in Genesis 18:5, Abraham extends his generosity by offering bread to refresh his visitors. He recognizes their ongoing journey and the need for sustenance, reinforcing the divine nature of the guests. Their acceptance of his offer further affirms their unique identity.

Genesis 18:6 highlights Abraham’s collaborative approach to hospitality as he instructs Sarah to prepare cakes from fine flour. This emphasizes the extent of their hospitality and also underscores Sarah’s role in fulfilling the act of hospitality. It showcases the partnership and unity in their relationship. In Genesis 18:7, I appreciate Abraham’s haste in selecting a choice calf and having it prepared, signifying his eagerness to provide the best for his divine guests. The act of offering meat demonstrates his respect for the visitors, marking it as an extravagant gesture. Finally, in Genesis 18:8, Abraham serves the prepared meal to his guests and remains present, standing by them as they eat. His attentive presence reinforces the theme of hospitality and underscores the importance of being fully engaged when welcoming guests.

The message conveyed in these verses centers on hospitality and recognizing the divine presence in unexpected encounters. Abraham’s actions serve as an exemplary model of hospitality, demonstrating humility, respect, generosity, and attentiveness to the needs of his guests. Furthermore, the mysterious nature of these visitors suggests that they represent God Himself, highlighting the idea that God often comes to us in unexpected forms. This message transcends the ancient narrative and holds profound relevance for me as a modern Christian.

In applying the message of Genesis 18:2-8 to my contemporary life, I feel a deep call to practice radical hospitality, mirroring Abraham’s warm and generous welcome to strangers and guests. I am inspired to remain open to the possibility of encountering God in unexpected people and situations, just as Abraham recognized the divine nature of his guests. The passage teaches me the importance of serving with humility, as Abraham selflessly served his guests. Finally, the involvement of both Abraham and Sarah in extending hospitality emphasizes the significance of shared responsibility in serving others, which can be applied in modern Christian households, fostering a culture of collaborative service.

In conclusion, Genesis 18:2-8 offers profound insights into the themes of hospitality and divine encounters. By emulating Abraham’s actions and attitudes, I can deepen my understanding of these themes and apply them to my own life, creating a more welcoming and spiritually enriching community. This passage serves as a timeless reminder of the significance of hospitality and the potential for divine encounters in our daily lives, reinforcing the transformative power of genuine, humble, and generous hospitality.


Challenge for the week: Watch for one opportunity to extend radical hospitality this week and take action. Share your experience by sending and email to jwebber0022@gmail.com or adding a comment to the Facebook blog post.