Biblical Hospitality In A Drive-Thru World

After learning so much about biblical hospitality over the course of the last five months, I realize how little I know about it, how little I really appreciate it, and how thoroughly misguided my concept of the word hospitality is for both me and my fellow Americans.  It seems that not only does the word need rehabilitated, but it will take more than a couple of fine sermons to promote it’s value, and even then the way forward in a world so hostile to it at so many levels will be mystifying too find, I think.

There are so many implications, levels, complications, categories of thought, paradigm shifts, and matrices that stand to be impacted that I don’t know where to start.

Modern life has reduced eating to food intake.  Shear calories and nutrients.  Astronaut food, Slim Fast and Ensure shakes, trail mix, and the like.  Of course most of us are concerned with taste, and so there is the secret sauce.  But food and eating are a consumer’s game, not a vital part of life.

Poor people in poor nations even today, and especially in times past, did not eat every day, and for many, bread – simple bread – was their main course most meals.  One might consider it a blessing to get a few vegetables, an occasional fruit, and perhaps a fish once in a while, or a simple bird.

Actually, we see poor people sharing in the daily meals of the church in Acts 2 and 4 or in Corinth who gave the grace of this kind of benefit that they would receive real food shared with love and friends.  And in THAT world, you can see how the poor would come flocking to the church like it was the very Body of Christ!

But even in America 70 years ago, “fast food” was unheard of.  Eating out was considered a treat, not a necessity.  And no one ever heard of a drive-in or a drive-thru.  Seriously… eating in your car?

No.  On the frontier, Mama and your sisters prepared food for you, your brothers, your father, and maybe your uncles while you worked in the field or at the mill.  Everyone sat down to eat together, and no one took a bite until it was properly blessed.  The food was not warmed in a microwave oven; it was not bought in plastic packaging; you didn’t eat alone in front of a TV or while sitting at a red light.  Several people worked in a choreographed fashion to produce, eat, and clean up a meal.  And there was no waste paper or bags full of trash piling up behind a McDonalds.

And all of that I just described is just one small slice of the whole picture.

What about the car?

The automobile alone changed American culture far beyond anything my great grandfather would ever have dreamed.  The car killed courtships, which probably has proven detrimental to marriage.  It gave us drive-ins and drive-thrus, commutes, suburbia, anonymity.

Ever watch the movie Crash?  Listen to Don Cheadle narrate the opening scene about how automobiles factor into the culture of Los Angeles, California.  It’s an interesting notion he proposes.

Life went from the speed of a donkey cart to 75mph in just a generation or two.  We eat, carpool, fornicate, watch movies, commute to and from work, drive too fast, cut off other drivers, talk of phones, and do it all in cars every day.  And we do a lot of these things alone those cars.

What about the television?  What about the internet?  What about our low paying jobs working for long hours each day?

If I go exploring each and every one of these angles, we run into more and more complexity immediately at every turn.  So where do I start?

Hospitality in a drive-thru world.  Hmmm…

I am learning from Sutherland, Koenig, Pohl, and Jipp just how important biblical hospitality is.  I am seeing it as part of the spiritual force that drives the gospel around the world, something both Jesus and St. Paul recognized, but seems to be lost on us modern Christians.

Eating together, making ourselves vulnerable to one another at the meal, in the preparations for the meal, in the clean up afterward, and sharing the space under one roof with others in the dark of night – trusting one another as we do so – almost seems too obvious.

Strangers and enemies transform into friends under such circumstances!  Just imagine Democrats and Republicans sleeping under one roof with a shared meal settling in their bellies!  That’s a God thang!

It was Koenig that opened my eyes to the Bedouin practice of hospitality, the style of hospitality that Abraham and Lot both seem to practice with their heavenly visitors – a practice that includes protection for their guests – their guests who were strangers upon arrival.  And somewhere along the way I recognized that the 2013 bio-pic movie about Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrel’s experience being saved by the Pashtun villager, Mohammad Gulab, though dramatized with much creative license, nonetheless depicts something of the practice and the lengths a host is expected to go to on behalf of a guest who accepts his hospitality.

We are a very long way from the ideal.  And that is so devastatingly clear to me at this point in my research.  I cannot imagine for one moment that a church so hellbent on not listening to me already is going to somehow begin to wrestle with God and embrace biblical hospitality, but then I suppose that is a God-sized job.



  1. John Lewis · May 15, 2019

    You’re back?


    • Agent X · May 15, 2019

      I am

      with one hand tied behind my back.

      but, yes…

      Liked by 2 people

      • John Lewis · May 15, 2019

        Hope all is well brother


      • Agent X · May 15, 2019


        Yes. I am well.

        Just too busy for fulltime blogging most weeks.


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