Welcoming Those God Welcomes
Encounter: Find a quiet place and practice meditative reading on Luke 14:12-23 in The Passion Translation. The first time you read it, underline words or phrases that seem to stand out to you. The second time, ask God if there is something in this passage that is relevant to your actions, perspectives and beliefs, (what is God impressing upon your heart), and write this in a journal or notebook. The third time, ask God if he is asking you to respond in someway to what you have read or listened to. End your time by reading Luke 6:32-36.
In the Art of Neighboring, Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door, Pastors Jay Pathuk and Dave Runyon write about about how easy it can be to exclude those God is asking us to befriend. Jay had prepared a huge event at his church. There was a concert, speakers and books to buy. He promoted on all the latest social networks, and used the latest techniques in marketing. The night of the event he stood at the entrance to the worship center waiting for the hundreds and instead fifty people showed up. It was a bust.
Deeply disappointed with his head hanging low, Jay headed home and as he pulled up in front of their apartment, he was surprised to see a crowd gathered in their front yard. And not only that, they were going inside. As he came walking through his front door to a house full of strangers, his wife greeted him and said, I decided to fix a barbecue and invite a few neighbors we didn’t know and this happened. What made him even more uneasy was there was a complete stranger sitting on his couch playing his guitar. It was clear, God was making him uncomfortable with the true vision of what it means to welcome people into His family.
In Episode 7, this theme is woven through the story lines of several characters. Of course the Jewish religious establishment was adamantly against including Gentiles into the Blessing and calling God had given their people. Even those closest to Jesus were having their deep seated beliefs challenged and realigned to how God was bringing all people into one unified family as He had always intended it to be.
No exclusions. Well, except for those who would try and keep others from joining the family. Those the bad spirit was working through to cause more division (Proverbs 6:16-19). Luke 14 is rich with story telling straight from the Master Storyteller and we find ourselves yet again being invited to a great feast where we are told not to show up alone but to invite everyone to the party.
This is the message of Easter. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death…So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family (Eph. 2:14-18)
He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. ALL OF US!
This Easter, we are not trying to “steal” people from other churches. We are going throughout the city and inviting anyone we find—the poor, the blind, the disabled, the hurting, and the lonely. Jesus said, invite them to my banquet. Jesus has shown us what it means to welcome who He welcomes and he telling us to do the same.
That’s why God gave us His vision. We are welcoming community seeking transformation through relationship with Jesus Christ and encouraging others to join us! Who are you inviting to the feast? Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!”
Because of the Resurrection!
Reflect: Jesus tells the people at a banquet in a religious leaders house, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.
Ask God what that would look like in your context. Be open to God speaking to you in the next many weeks about who He is asking you to “Welcome” to His family.
Encourage: Make a feast at your home. Set the table like you are preparing for a holiday and invite someone or someones to come. Show them hospitality like you have been shown. Maybe there is someone you know who does not have family locally that would be encouraged by an invitation to your family gathering for Easter.
After reading together Luke 14:12-34 in thte NLT ask your group:
In the parable, what do the master of the house and his banquet represent?
Those who were originally invited to the banquet - and who had probably already responded "Yes" to an initial RSVP - offer excuses and skip out when the time of the party has come. Consider the groups that we've seen portrayed in The Chosen so far. Who do you think the characters that excuse themselves from the party are meant to represent? Who else can it represent in our context?
How is God inviting you to respond?