Hospitality is the Hallmark

“Hospitality to the needy is to be the hallmark of the disciple of Christ." -Patrick T. McCormick 

In our culture, much is made of our personal beliefs. What a person believes—and by this, we mean the position one takes on one issue or another—can make or break them with certain people. What someone believes can mean either their acceptance into a community or their banishment. It can mean being welcomed or shunned. It can mean being praised or being cancelled. Belief means a lot. 

In Christianity, throughout its history, belief has also meant a lot... but in a very different way from that of the culture wars of our time. In the way of Jesus Christ, every belief that Christianity claims is designed to lead to more openness, not less. Christian belief was never intended to be exclusive, but inclusive. The Creeds for example (i.e. the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed), are not meant to keep people out but to bring people in. If one takes seriously the belief in “the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting,” then they should become more accepting of people who disagree with their beliefs, not less. 

 This is possible precisely because, in Christianity, belief is not the most important thing. The Church is not a fraternity of the like-minded, it is not a club for people who all think the same way. Belief serves a higher purpose than that of figuring out who is “in” and who is “out.” The point of Christianity and the point of belief is to celebrate, proclaim, and be transformed by the radical hospitality of God, and to extend that hospitality to everyone, even to those we may otherwise perceive as enemies. This hospitality—especially to those in the most need of it—is, as Patrick McCormick put it, “the hallmark of the disciple of Christ” (From his book, A Banqueter's Guide to the All-Night Soup Kitchen of the Kingdom of God, page 46).