Monday, January 12, 2009

Hosting a Banquet

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." ~Luke 14:12-14

As a general rule, I believe the Bible to be the straightforward and literal Word of God. I don't think that most passages are intended to be ambiguous strings of words that required "interpretation" in order to be understood. I believe that God created the earth in a literal six days and rested on the seventh. I believe that people literally lived until they were 800 years old. I believe that Noah really did, literally, live on a big boat containing two of every kind of [stinky] creature for months. And so on...

This means that I also understand the words of Jesus to mean exactly what they appear to mean. I don't see the above passage as an allegory of some sort. No, Jesus is literally saying that I am supposed to invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind into my home.

I'll be honest, I struggle with this. The idea of inviting, for example, the unpleasant smelling homeless man outside the grocery store to my house - very uncomfortable...and a little scary! Especially in this day and age, where tales of horrible things done to kind strangers are everyday fare on the news channel.

So I've been asking God how I can obey Him in this in a way that also protects my family. He showed me that I don't need to drive downtown and look for unknown homeless people (not that He someday won't ask this of me - or you - but perhaps not during this season of young children at home). He showed me that we already know a number of poor, crippled, lame, and blind people whom we can welcome and show His love to.

A sibling...certainly not considered poor by the world's standard...spending money like it were going out of style on all kinds of items for personal enjoyment...feeling an emptiness and trying to fill it the way this world says it can be filled...but poverty-stricken in spirit - no hope, no joy, no love, no Jesus.

An old friend...strong legs and back, employed and hard working...struggling with depression and unable to break free...aching, empty, lonely, and unable to step out of the quicksand that is pulling and sucking...crippled and without the freedom that comes only from Christ.

Another friend from days gone by...addicted and strangled by the grip of drugs...grasping for something - anything - to break free, yet unable to move forward...injured...lame.

Another sibling...searching for meaning wherever it can be found...spirituality in any possible form - yoga, new age, meditation, positive-thinking-power-of-attraction...completely blind to the Truth, unable and unwilling to see the Source of Real Spiritual Meaning.

We're surrounded by those who are poor, crippled, lame, and blind. And we hold the key to their healing and freedom. All it takes is a simple invitation to the dinner table.

1 comment:

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