Recently, my sons and I encountered a man experiencing homelessness asking for assistance. I rolled down my window to give him a package of Pop-Tarts. A conversation about building houses and providing food for those who don’t have enough ensued. “Mama, the workers will build a house for them!” my three-year-old said with enthusiasm. I nodded my head along with him as I wished for just an ounce of his faith.
At the end of the parable in Luke 14, Jesus calls us to share our abundance with those who could never repay us. As Christians, we are to extend hospitality to “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”—for such is the kingdom of God. Though I find it easy to roll down my window and hand someone a breakfast item, I find it far more difficult to stretch my hospitality a step further toward the heart of Jesus’ words. Jesus comes not only for those who look put together and have financial security. Jesus comes not only for those of us who attend church every Sunday, who tithe regularly, who repent of our sins, who vote the way we feel is right, and who know all the right people. This passage reminds us of the subversive nature of God, who reverses our expectations and understandings and who promises that those who host the marginalized out of their abundance will be “repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
As much as I want to live by this upside-down, counter-cultural social system, I don’t always know how to make it happen. I think it requires a step beyond a package of Pop-Tarts. My next step might be asking someone’s name and issuing an invitation to my house for dinner.
God, I believe your kingdom extends far beyond the borders I usually place around me. Help me to extend my borders to include all whom you send my way. Amen.
Jeremiah (the “weeping prophet”) is not very popular in his time. In this passage he relates a message from God that the people have forsaken God (living water) and put their trust in things that can never satisfy (leaky cisterns). The psalmist expresses similar frustration from God. Israel will not listen to God’s voice or receive God’s provision, so God allows them to experience the unfortunate consequences of their choices. The author of Hebrews provides practical advice for living the Christian life: showing hospitality, caring for those in prison, honoring marriage, and avoiding materialism. This ethical living is an offering to God. Jesus reinforces this in his parable of the banquet. We should be generous to those who need it most, not just to those who can provide us some benefit in return.
Read Jeremiah 2:4-13. When have you missed the fountain of living water springing up before you?
Read Psalm 81:1, 10-16. How is God seeking to provide for you? Are you willing to accept God’s satisfying provision?
Read Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16. How do you or your faith community share hospitality? Do you distinguish between friends and strangers?
Read Luke 14:1, 7-14. Whom do you invite to your home and to your church? Do you invite those who cannot repay you or only those who can?
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