by John Ellis
Note: This article is a followed up to my post on Hospitality, and was originally written for and published in my church’s newsletter.
While reading the Bible with our kids, we often ask them how the passage relates to God’s promise found in Genesis 3:15. The reason we ask this is because Genesis 3:15 contains the Bible’s thesis – God’s plan to save a people unto Himself. Everything else in the Bible relates to that thesis. The story points to and culminates in the suffering servant who dies a humiliating death on the Cross. Of course, our Savior was raised from the dead, but not before going through a painful execution that was usually reserved for the most depraved criminals. Every passage in the Bible is a part of that story.
In John 13, when Jesus first attempts to wash Peter’s feet, Peter’s response betrays that he had yet to grasp the truth of that story. He didn’t understand Jesus’ role in God’s plan of redemption. Peter, like most of his fellow Jews, failed to see that God’s story included the folly of a suffering servant. When King Jesus extended servile hospitality to his disciples on that evening, he was demonstrating the manner in which the seed of the woman was going to crush the head of the Serpent. He would not do it through the power of military might that would dominate his enemies and set up his reign as the King of the Jews. Nor by marching up the Temple steps and claiming his rightful place as the conquering Messiah. No, King Jesus accomplished the salvation of God’s people by an act of humiliating obedience that cleansed his people of their sins.
This is why the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that, “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing.” For the world, those who aren’t indwelled by the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t make sense that an all powerful God would accomplish his objective by allowing his son, the Redeemer, to be killed in such a shameful fashion. That’s not how the world understands success. By initially refusing Jesus’ service, Peter demonstrated that he was still blinded by the wisdom of the world. His pride didn’t allow him to accept that his Master was a servant. Peter had yet to see Jesus for who he truly was and what his mission actually entailed.
And that brings us to the question of hospitality in the life of the church. In the previous article on hospitality, I wrote that our hospitality is a visible demonstration of the selfless love that Jesus has for those whom the Father has given him. Likewise, our response to hospitality from others reflects our understanding of who we are, what our need is, and how God accomplished the salvation of His people.
Like Peter, we have been called to accept, by faith, the sacrificial love of our Savior. We have been called to humble ourselves before the cross and put our entire assurance and identity in what the world continues to call foolish. And, among other ways, our identity in Christ is revealed by how we respond to acts of hospitality from others.
Our identity in Christ should compel us to receive acts of service and hospitality with grateful humility. And often, we don’t receive acts of charity because we fail to confess our needs to one another. The Holy Spirit has sovereignly placed each of us in our churches for God’s glory, the expansion of the Kingdom, and for our corporate and individual sanctification. Part of our sanctification is wrapped up in being discipled and served by our brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you’re struggling with something, spiritual or physical, don’t deny yourself the Body of Christ. It can be embarrassing to admit a need. As humans, we long for respect; revealing a weakness leaves us vulnerable. By God’s grace, humble yourself and avail yourself of the means of grace that God has graciously blessed you with. Allow the Body of Christ to serve you; in doing so, you are expressing your faith in the suffering servant who saved you from your greatest need – sin.
If you need someone to pray for you, let a fellow church member know. If you are having trouble paying your rent, let a fellow church member know. If you are lonely, let a fellow church member know. We are not only covenanted together in order to serve each other; we are also covenanted together in order to be served by one another.
Are we willing to humble ourselves and admit that we are needy? We need the body of Christ because we are sinners who are in need of Jesus. When we allow our pride to block us from confessing to each other our sins, struggle, and needs, which, in turn, doesn’t allow the Body to serve us, we are allowing ourselves, like Peter, to be blinded to the glorious reality that King Jesus came as a suffering servant because we are a people in need of a Savior. As recipients of King Jesus’ service, we are able to joyfully receive the service of our brothers in sisters in Christ.
 1 Corinthians 1:18, ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 2193.