You'll find it first in the oft-misunderstood story in Genesis 19 of Lot, who was willing to lay down his life in order to protect the strangers in his house.
In 2 Kings 4, a Shunammite woman persuaded her husband to build a guest room for the prophet Elisha as part of their own home.
And in Hebrews 13:2, there's this admonition:
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it."
Of course, the key verse on hospitality comes from the mouth of Jesus himself, in Matthew 25:40: "... as you have done it unto the least of these who are members of my family, you have done it unto me."
With so many references to hospitality in the Bible, we can affirm that it is one of the important ways we can do ministry. The question then becomes:
How can we practice hospitality?
We can provide a nursery at our church as a way of saying to families with small children: "We are glad you are here. We welcome you to our church family."
We provide special parking places for visitors for the same reasons and have special greeters as people gather for Sunday school, worship services and fellowship suppers.
Showing hospitality is not just the responsibility of a church committee, nor is it primarily a program of the church. Hospitality to strangers is the mission of every member of the congregation, of all who call Jesus Christ their Lord.
DR. GENE NORRIS IS A LOCAL PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR.