This week's devotional is from Pastor Art.
In reading Luke 15 (and perhaps listening to the sermon I brought on that text last Sunday) Christ’s passion for inclusion really can’t be missed. Even though the parablolic genre he used to offer a response to the stiff-lipped complaints about “rabble” being invited to dine with him seems to soften the blow a bit, the content of those stories hints at an obvious repulsion on Christ’s part.
“Everyone is welcome at my table,” he is saying in so many words, “even those whose lives, practices, and beliefs don’t line up with me all that well.” But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to confess that he’s more excited about potential fellowship with his most “ill-fitted” dinner guests than he is with the more regular, perfectly dressed banquet crowd.
However, in all the excitement of such a broad invitation – the picture of such an “open-armed” Jesus, it’s possible to miss an important piece of his message. Jesus says everyone is welcome, but he never says or implies that everyone is correct. CHRIST ISN’T SENDING THE MESSAGE THAT TRUTH DOESN’T MATTER; HE’S SENDING THE MESSAGE THAT TRUTH NEEDN’T EXCLUDE OR SEPARATE. And he’s implying that truth is best propagated through connection, community, engagement, loving relationship – even with people who still slurp their soup and chew with their mouths open.
Put plainly for today’s Christ-followers, “The Church needs to rediscover and redeploy an ability to be in true and meaningful community with those with whom she might have all sorts of significant theological and lifestyle disagreement.”
My point last Sunday was this:
Unless the church is intellectually and theologically astute enough to figure out how to do this, she is doomed to increased levels of isolation, the inevitable result of which is irrelevance.
Unless we become secure and confident enough in Christ to be unthreatened by true and reciprocal friendship with people we believe really NEED Christ, we’ll not be able to be faithful to the missional call OF Christ.
Concentrate on these two statements as you read the accompanying texts:
Jesus has a fondness for “foundness.” (John 17)
- How is this fondness expressed/exposed in his prayer for his disciples?
- What parallels do you notice between his heart in this prayer and his heart in the parables of Luke 15?
Disagreement without disassociation. (John 13 *2-4 & 21-30)
- There are two “future betrayers” seated with Jesus at the table. Who are they?
- Reflect on Christ’s ability to stay connected to those with whom he disagrees – even those who are about to break his heart. What might this mean for the way we do church today?
BE A BLESSING
A pastor friend, Harvey Drake, recently reminded a group of us that we “can’t bless what we won’t touch.”
Who is in your life that you have considered unworthy of your table simply because they didn’t agree with the way you prepared your meals (I’m speaking figuratively, of course)? Who has been removed from the possibility of being blessed by the “Christ in you” precisely because you’ve removed the YOU – become unwilling to “touch” them?
- Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
- Then pray the Lord’s Prayer for that person.
- Now pray a blessing on whoever it is you’ve identified.
- Now would you dare to honestly ask God to forgive you for any part you may have played in aligning yourself with the heart of the Pharisees of Luke 15 (you may not have necessarily done that – just ask the Spirit to reveal it to you if you have).
- Then ask the Lord to gradually change your heart for that person.
- For several consecutive weeks, you might drop a prayer card in the offering basket so our prayer team can be praying for you and the person for whom you’re praying.
THEN LET’S SEE WHAT GOD DOES WITH THOSE PRAYERS.