Aug 7, 2013

Who Is Welcome At Your Table?

A friend is moving today. I have not known her long but she sat at my table today.
We cried over losses, changes, faith, the things that make a life.
She built relationship with me when I moved in. I didn't embrace it like long lost friends... I hesitated, still grieving what was.
Over time it grew. Now she will no longer live across the street from me. I will always be thankful to know her and be her friend.

Since our move the word relationship has come up often.
It's a choice I make every day. I will either embrace the new and build on it or reject it, deciding I know all I need to know, have all the friends necessary, and stick to my preconceived ideas...

God has said no to my ideas. Instead he brings women, amazing women into my life. Women, much smarter than I. More educated, more accomplished, and sometimes more broken.

He reminds me of the table, where relationships begin. My table... He tells me to invite them there. He does the rest.

There have been conversations at tables... and I ponder them.
God is often part of these conversations... not because I push Him into them, but because so much of our discussions, concerns, fears and choices... are because of Him or the lack of Him.

People have strong opinions of who and what God, Jesus and religion are all about.
I am not a scholar of the Bible, but I do have a solid grounding of scripture...
The beauty of scripture is that God did not make it hard to understand. It was written by brilliant minds, some were even fishermen, others Doctors, prophets, tax collectors and tent makers.
God brought the unlikely together, to create the greatest masterpiece ever written.

When it comes to discussions of faith, there seem to be three types of people I meet.
The ones who claim Christianity. They read their Bibles. They are at the church when the doors are
They tell you how they feel about immigration, gay marriage and mixed marriage and why you should feel the same way.
They point to scripture to condemn, shame and fix your sins..... brother.
They hold their heads high, while looking down on others.

Or... they like their "religion" kept in a box, only brought out on Sunday.
It's something they do, not who they are.
Some live in perfect homes, with perfect kids and perfect jobs, while wearing perfectly coordinated outfits to church.
There is no way you could ever be their friend because they are too perfect and you would screw it up, with your messy wardrobe and messier lives.
It is more important for them to tell you what they oppose rather than what they support.
They are legalistic, extreme, and without grace.
They are not going to invite you to their table, because you would not fit in.

Jesus was none of these things.
And why would anyone want that life?
And... do you realize how you hurt the next set of people I meet?!

The second type of people are the ones who tell you it doesn't matter what you believe because every religion thinks it is correct and none of them are right.
They point to the churches and people who have hurt them and ask why would they would want that? (see above)
They have felt judged, not good enough and shamed. They have never seen grace in action.
Most do not know what the Bible says because they have not read it, but from what they have heard, it sounds crazy, ridiculous... plus there was a lot of killing, evil and bad things happening.
All true.
People were involved.
They have heard that Jesus is the only way and that sounds ridiculous and prideful.
I mean, come on!
What about all those good people, the ones who never heard about Him, the good Buddhist or Jew or atheist?
Big questions... thank goodness for a Bigger God.
They do not believe they need fixing and religion seems like a crutch.
Deep down, there is fear.. there is always fear, when there is no Savior.
That is how God made us... with a desire for Him. Some of us just don't know it yet, and are searching for everything but Him.
These people may invite you to their table... but please, go humbly. Go and simply commune and be thankful they invited you.

Then there are the people... who love without regard to color of skin, ethnicity, degrees accumulated, money made, houses built, vacations taken, cars driven,  sharing the same beliefs.
It doesn't matter if your daddy is a jailbird, your mama a drug addict, and your boyfriend drives a garbage truck... or if you are the millionaire next door. Your value is the same.
Oh, the comfort in those people... they draw me in.

They realize our differences will fade, as our relationships grow. Our common need of friendship and encouragement should trump our differences.
They recognize that Jesus walked this earth, not wielding a heavy stick, but with a healing hand and gentle words. He spoke truth, but always in grace and compassion.

If Jesus stayed at my house he would not sit in front of Fox news... or CNN  and curse at the atrocities.
He would tell the Truth and ask questions that got to the heart of the matter, every time.
He would sit at my table and ask me who I thought He was.
He would ask me to become a fisher of men.
He would look into my eyes and ask me if I was willing to give up my dreams, my desires... for something better.

He would take me by the hand and we would walk the streets downtown.
We would visit the shelters, the resource centers, the hospice house, the hospitals, the soup kitchens, the jail, the bars, the house with the mama sitting out front and children playing. We would take the tax collector to lunch, introduce ourselves to the lawyers and church people.
He would build relationships.
He would invite us ALL to His table.
We would fellowship.

He would tell you He doesn't care what you have done... good or bad, how much you know, where you went to school, how many awards you have or who your friends are.
He doesn't care.
But He does care about you...
He cares that you know Him... and why He came.
He came to save the lost, the broken, the downtrodden.
News flash... that's all of us. YOU. ME.

So, to the first group of people and the second group. I apologize for the ugly Christian... which I have been.
We are not God's representatives when we behave this way.
Pray for each other, that God will be shown in His glory. That love will trump pride and hate... every time.

But hear me.. we are all hypocrites. We are all broken and we all hurt each other. The difference is, when we truly become Christ followers, we apologize, we love graciously. We invite each other to our tables.

My thought and question is this? Where do you find yourself today?
Are you in one of these groups?
Do you believe He is who He said He was... The Christ, The Son of GOD...

Embrace Him or reject Him, but shouldn't you know who He says He is?

Don't be misled or reject because of past hurts.
Find out for yourself.
He will show you Truth.... and yes, there is One Truth when it comes to God.

I pray you will search Him out, and you will embrace Him when you find the Truth that sets your soul free... and you will sit at His table and Know Him as never before.

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” 
Luke 14; 12-14

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2

1 comment:

  1. great post Dale!
    May I suggest a little book that dovetails perfectly with what you are illustrating? It's " The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert" an english professor's journey into Christian faith, by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. Amazing!
    tom mortenson


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