To people of significant religious and political power, Jesus said:
“People will come from east and west, north and south, and sit down to eat in God’s kingdom.” (Luke 13:29)
While at a party hosted by a man who enjoyed significant religious and political power, Jesus said:
“When you host a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives, or rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return and that will be your reward. Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected.'” (Luke 14:12-14)
Welcome the people who can’t pay you back, require the most need for the most resources, and are most often excluded–that’s the point of Jesus story told in a context of power. It would do society good if the Church would listen to Jesus rather than find reasons (and other programs) not to.
Because Jesus chose to welcome us, even when we could have remained excluded, we must choose to welcome others, especially those most often excluded.
Come on Church. Let’s do better. Relinquish some programs. Takes risks. Extend God’s hospitality and generosity to those who need it most. Let’s learn to love. We have the Spirit of Christ and the resources of God’s kingdom.
And Pastors, let’s model the lives we proclaim. Say no to some church folk so you can say yes to marginalized folk. Take courage and call the Church to join you and meet Jesus in the margins where the excluded are found. If they don’t want to, fine. Maybe they’ll eventually come around. If not, I assure you they’ll find dozens of other churches to join where they can remain comfortable and complacent (and I don’t say this lightly). As for you and me, let’s obey Jesus and trust him with the consequences.
The city to which God has called us needs us to.