Archive for October, 2011

Room at Your Table?

Jesus was criticized for many things he did and said. Chief among the criticisms was the company he kept.  In Jewish society the rules of association were clear.  You are to eat and drink with people like you.  If you are God-fearing, you  have room in your life only for other God-fearing people.  So you can imagine the shock when Jesus was found to be eating with known “sinners” and outcasts.

Of course, Jesus’ goal was not to stir up trouble. Instead, he came to show forth the grace that he would die to secure. Being welcomed at a table for the purpose of eating food with another person is a ceremony richly symbolic of friendship, intimacy, and unity.  Tax collectors, whores, and Pharisees were among the people he dined with.  He didn’t exclude anyone.Can you imagine a better way to show forth the truth of the gospel?  The message is clear: Jesus opens the way to life and for you to walk with the Father.  You can’t make this happen by being good or following he law.  You certainly can’t make it so by keeping good company.  And, who do you think you are anyway?  Who deserves to eat and drink with Jesus?  Who is worthy?  No one is.

But, none of this stops Jesus. He’s determined to go to Zaccheus’ house.  He accepts Levi’s invitation to a party with his tax collector cronies. He allows a notoriously sinful woman to anoint his feet at Simon the Pharisee’s dinner party.  How dare he? Of course, this was all according to his plan.  And why not? This is why he came.

The question for us is: do we get it?  Can we see that we can’t get home on our own?  That for Jesus to eat with us is for him to eat with sinners and broken people?  That who we share table fellowship with shows our theology about as good as anything else we might do?  The gospel says: The Son of Man came eating and drinking... Should we do less?

If we are to follow Jesus, we must be eating and drinking as well.  And, we must also come to see table fellowship as the way we share our lives, and his grace, and also the way we enjoy and spread his community.  This is why Christians have always practiced hospitality and opened their homes and tables to the world.  Do we get it?  Are we practicing loving hospitality that shows how high and wide and long and deep the love of Jesus is?

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