Then he turned to his host. When you put on a luncheon or a banquet, he said, don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors for they will invite you back and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then, at the resurrection for the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you. Luke 14:12-13 (NLT)
If you consider yourself a believer this passage is for you. Jesus is saying when you get together to eat, don’t just invite everybody you’re comfortable inviting because that was their tradition back then. They would invite people only because they knew the person would then be obligated to invite them to their house. I’m inviting you because I know you’re going to repay me with an invitation. I’m only inviting people who can then invite me. It’s transactional and in that culture inviting someone for a meal was not about food. Food was part of it. But in that culture, when you gave someone food, you were inviting them into your life. You were inviting them into your space, into your existence. You were inviting them to be a part of who you are. You weren’t just inviting them for tea and crumpets. It went way beyond the meal.
That’s why Jesus was criticized so many times. “He eats with sinners.” And they criticized him for that because he wasn’t just sharing food. He was basically saying, your sinful life is now a part of my pure life. And I am dirtying myself by inviting you to eat with me. So when we talk about inviting someone for a meal, it’s not about hanging out at the coffee shop and drinking coffee together. It’s about putting our lives together. And this is a great lesson for us, especially those of us who claim to be followers of Christ. And it brings this question to my mind:
Who have you invited to eat with you?
And I’m talking beyond the food. Who have you invited to be a part of your life? This is how we embrace outcasts. Who are you inviting beyond the hello at church?