I heard a great sermon today based on the passage in Luke where Jesus talked about the rich man who threw a banquet that all his fellow rich people snubbed that turned into a feast for the “the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” (Luke 14:21 if you’re curious.)
As with most great sermons, it had me running through my head what was taught an applications that came from the Word. The thing that hit me as I drove home later that day and saw parking lots full of people who dressed the same, acted the same, had similar cars was that there is a big word in churches across America that shouldn’t really be there as a driving force.
Now, before you panic, I’m not saying that it’s not good for you to be comfortable in what you call your church home in the sense that you can find peace there; wisdom there; strength there; teaching there and yes, comfort itself. A church should be a place for the saints to come and be recharged to go out during the week into a world that hates Jesus and be a shining light in the darkness.
However, I think the church in America as a whole has slipped into dangerous territory where the people who would be welcomed at the master’s banquet wouldn’t be welcome in the average church on Sunday morning.
Think about this…if we took Jesus’ parable and moved it to the modern day in modern language that is not from “The Message” translation…
“A dude spent way too much cash throwing a party for all his friends. These friends were folks like him: they worked at various jobs, carved out what they called a middle to lower-middle class lifestyle. They had kids. They had pets. They watched football on Saturdays and rushed home from church to watch the NFL on Sundays or NASCAR if they were a more enlightened person.
The day of the party came and the caterer sent out his staff to bring the guests. One by one, they had lame excuses why they couldn’t show up. ’I can’t show up, I have to wait for Best Buy to deliver the TV I just bought online so I can make sure it fits in the living room.’ ’I have to go to the bank and make sure I have enough in my safe deposit box to buy that bass boat my wife doesn’t want me to get.’ ’My wife said no.’
The caterer came to the guy footing the bill for the party and said ‘everyone had a lame excuse. They’re not coming.’ This torked the cookies of the guy who planned this thing. He looked at the caterer and told him, ‘get me anyone. Go out and get me the homeless folks who are laying outside of the food kitchen. Get me the folks at the bar who are cheating on their spouses. Get the guy down the road who looks more like a woman in his dress than most of the women at my church. Get the gays and lesbians from the local activist office.’
The caterer does it and the room is still able to accomodate more people. So he goes back to the party host and tells him that all the host mentioned have been invited and there is still room. ’Then go get more,’ the host said. ’go get anyone who my so-called friends would never let in their doors. And those folks will not be allowed to come in here.” (Luke 14:12-23 MSYV)
Think about your church.
Would they feel welcomed at your table?
Would they feel like they’re in a place of peace and friendship?
Or would you have empty seats between them and “your” congregation?
Would you find they were going through the line to get food last because no one invited them to go first?
It’s just something to think about…