"When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God." Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, `Come, for everything is now ready.' "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, `I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' "Another said, `I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' "Still another said, `I just got married, so I can't come.' "The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, `Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' "`Sir,' the servant said, `what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' "Then the master told his servant, `Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet,” [Luke 14:12-24]
Isn’t it amazing who Jesus said were the most likely candidates for the Kingdom of Heaven? The people that everyone would expect to come into the Kingdom, Jesus says are the most resistant. Those, whom we would expect to be the least likely candidates, are the most receptive.
In many ways, the majority of churches in America have it all wrong. The Barna Group reports that most American churches compete for 10% of our country’s “most likely” candidates: The upper middle class with previous Christian background. In other words, the majority of churches are just exchanging already-saved Christians back and forth –we are not converting the remaining 90% of our population very well. Why? Because we often develop our programs and activities for the already-saved. Much of the time, we are more concerned with pleasing the saved than reaching the lost. But hospitality is a command to every Christian. We all remember the story of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:30-37], where the “least likely guy” helped a person in need while all the “good guys” just passed by.
Just Friday, I had a long conversation with a down-and-out Christian (who belongs to another church). She said that a tree fell on her house and no one offered to help. Many drove by to look but none offered a helping hand (a story that I can certainly relate to!). She said, they didn’t even need to offer help; she just wanted someone to stop by and say that they cared… she wanted someone to show compassion –it didn’t even matter if they stopped and helped or not. I then asked her, “And no one from your church came to help you? Did they know?” And she said, “Yes, they knew. But no one came…” This grieved me. I think sometimes we feel like we will be too intrusive or in the way if we offer to help. Or maybe it’s just a convenient excuse…
A member of our church sent me an article the other day about the situation in Henryville, IN. Many tornado victims lost everything. It seems to happen earlier and more intensely, every year now, doesn’t it? But this article really hurt. It seems that a good majority of the people drove through Henryville recently to gawk, not help. Has our entertainment-driven culture desensitized us to the need for compassion? A journalist wrote the article because he was sent to take pictures and was cursed at by a local who was sifting through what was left of his house. And looters had already come through. The devastation was stifling. The journalist, struck by the man’s pain, began to talk to him. He said that rather than coming to gawk, he wished someone would just show up with a chainsaw to help. Could that be us?
Hospitality is an act of compassion. It is not simply showing kindness to the kind of person you would expect to come over for dinner or stay the night. It’s beyond that. True Christian hospitality anticipates the needy, seeks them out, and invites them into the home. In a day when hearts are growing cold, Christians have a golden opportunity to show the raging fire of God’s love –a love that will melt the hardest heart.
Jesus told us to serve the needy in anticipation of a heavenly reward, not an earthly one. In an age when churches seemed more concerned with stealing Christians from one another rather than making new converts, let’s be truly different. Let’s seek and save those who are NOT comforted by the love of Christ. Let’s do what Jesus said.
Seeking something better,