Recently I spent some time with some new and old friends talking about ministry. We were eating together, as is the case with many church workers. I enjoy food, but the guys I was eating with seemed to enjoy it just a little bit more… well actually a lot more. They love to share food with each other and enjoy the experience together. It was a great time. I love food and I love how good food can bring about such good conversation. It is a way for many of us to break down walls and really listen. (Mostly the listening comes from stuffing our faces with food.) Good food really does bring about great joy and conversation.
This eating together reminded my of a text of scripture I recently read while preparing some of my students for 30 hour famine. Luke 14:12-24, is one of my favorite texts in scripture. I love how Jesus invited the the lowly. He calls the crippled and the lame. The crippled, who in Jesus’ day were the outcasts. The people who wouldn’t have been allowed in the temple or anywhere God was present, because they were unclean, unworthy to be in God’s presence and grace. They were unworthy to join in the fellowship because they weren’t good enough. Jesus in this parable reminds us that we who sit at the table are the lowly beggars the sick and lame. We are not worthy to be in His presence but we are anyway, because of his graciousness. We give thanks to God for this.
More importantly I was struck by Luke 14:23 after the crippled and lame are invited he was to go out and compel them to come. I have always been fascinated by this part of the story. You see as a disciple of Jesus I am asked to be like him. He compels them to come in. How am I compelling my neighbor to come and be at the banquet. I think many of us just drop the invite and throw up are hands when they don’t come. Here Jesus seems to tell us to go and compel them to come. Be more forceful. Sometimes I wonder if when we got the invite and went to His banquet, why don’t I go to my friends, family, even enemies and share with them this awesome place of nourishment we have in Jesus. This place where we eat and are satisfied. Where we have true fellowship in God. I pray for myself to have heart of invitation and a want to compel my neighbor, not just selfishness for myself.
So the question remains for all of us. Have you compelled them to come to the banquet yet?