Today, we invite you to continue the conversation about hospitality started last month, as we ground our understanding of hospitality in our identity as citizens of heaven and how the Gospel dramatically changes our relationship to God.
Before beginning, I encourage you to read Ephesians 2 a couple of times. Let it soak in. If you’ve been a Christian for as long as you can remember, I pray that the Spirit makes these words appeal to your soul.
Paul starts his letter to the Ephesians with a wonderful declaration of who believers are in Christ and of our inheritance as His children. In Ephesians 2, he shares a grim picture of who we are before Christ, the magnificent love with which God transforms our lives, and ends the chapter with a beautiful picture of the unity believers experience because of Christ.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Before Christ, you and I were “living corpses”—alive and breathing as human beings yet spiritually and eternally dead because of our sin. We lived truly to our human nature and indulged its impulses for selfishness, fear, worry, lust, pride, and so on. We knew no other way.
This concept, our inborn bent away from all that is good and holy, is unpopular in our day. I am surrounded by messages that tell me that I am good and beautiful, that my soul desires good and beautiful things, but the Bible is clear—apart from knowing Christ, I once was separated from God because of an innate proclivity towards sin.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Here is where the story changes. In a dramatic shift of life as we humans know it, God intervenes in our brokenness because of His mercy and love. We were once living corpses, but God makes us alive in Christ. We once were children of wrath, but God creates us in Christ Jesus for good works. We once followed the course of this world and the devil, but God raises us up and seats us with Himself eternally in heaven.
The first question I am compelled to ask is “why?” Why has God worked this complete reorientation of my life? Paul teaches us here that it is because of God’s love for us—His love for us while we were living corpses and children of wrath who followed our human impulses and desires. This grace I receive is because of nothing I have done; it is a gift of love from our Father. You and I have done nothing to earn our favor with God. Our salvation comes freely from a Father rich in mercy, because of His love.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Paul makes it clear that prior to our salvation, we were strangers and aliens to God. However, because of the acceptance He gives us into His family, God no longer views us as strangers and aliens—those who are outside of His family and kingdom—but as fellow citizens and members of His family.
Think about that.
You and I once were outcasts and strangers to God’s family, and now we are welcomed as His sons and daughters. We once were characterized by our sin, offensive to an utterly perfect and holy God, but in His goodness, He has forgiven our sins and accepts us into His kingdom. In welcoming us through Christ, God has displayed the greatest example of hospitality.
This truth, this complete restoration to God and acceptance by God, should stir our hearts to welcome, love and invite others into our community and homes. This is why we “do hospitality” as Christians. Because we have been accepted and loved by God, welcomed into His kingdom and family, we love and serve others, those who are strangers, those who are different, those we do not yet know fully.
As God commanded the Israelites to do well towards sojourners in their land because they were once sojourners in Egypt, we are to do well to others because we were once strangers to God. In extending hospitality towards others, we reflect the kindnesses and love we have received from God.
 Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, “Commentary on Ephesians 2,” Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/Eph/Eph_002.cfm?a=1099001