By Sue Ward
Then Jesus turned to his host and said, “When you throw a banquet, don’t just invite your friends, relatives, or rich neighbours—for it is likely they will return the favour. It is better to invite those who never get an invitation. Invite the poor to your banquet, along with the outcast, the handicapped, and the blind—those who could never repay you the favour. Then you will experience a great blessing in this life, and at the resurrection of the godly you will receive a full reward.” Luke 14 v 12-14
So hands up - who’s waiting for June 22nd to come round so you can legally throw a party and hang out with your family and friends that you’ve been longing to see since before lockdown? If you had no limits and could ask whoever you wanted, who would be on your invitation list as an ideal dinner guest? Would it be a famous celebrity with a great following that you would love the chance to rub shoulders with? Or the person who makes interesting conversation and has you laughing all evening? Or those who makes you feel most comfortable on your team and you feel closest too?
In this passage, Jesus directly addresses the host who had invited him to the party. He could discern that he was selective in his choice of guests and lacked love to others, so wanted to challenge his motives. Its not wrong to invite our nearest and dearest and enjoy a shin dig together, however Jesus wanted to get to was the root of the matter. It was the exclusivity of only inviting guests that he knew they could repay him at a later date and those that would make him look good and reinforce him in his social standing.
Jesus is showing us here how we can reach out in our communities and live out the heart of God’s Kingdom well to those around us. We can demonstrate the heart of God, by opening our doors and give a gift of hospitality to the least in society, those who are less attractive, to someone possibly in our own tribe that can be easily overlooked and that can be missed off our guest list. The gospels give us many examples of when individuals encounted God over a meal and very often it was characters that no-one else wanted to associate with. I can imagine the sense of belonging and acceptance Zaccheus felt when the Son of Man came to his house for tea and the revelation the disciples received as they broke bread together and recognised who they had been talking with (Luke 24 v 30). This kind of living is challenging for us all and will cost us something in stretching us out of our comfort zones
financially, socially, cross culturally and many other ways. However who knows what opportunities to encounter God and have a revelation of His Kingdom we can give to people as we open our hearts and homes and give ourselves away like this. We can be sure God is very lavish to us in return. He sees how we generously demonstrate His love for people and He extends a double blessing to us, now in this life and at the resurrection.
So, as you start to plan your get togethers after lockdown take a moment to ask God Is there someone that I can extend the love of the Kingdom to and open my doors to?