Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hosting A Banquet?

Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or 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."
Luke 14:12-14

At church Sunday I was 100% convinced that Bro. Ken has been reading my ministry notes for speaking!  Every few minutes my heart was saying "AMEN!",  followed by my brain saying "that's what I've been saying all along!  Jeez - are you people EVER going to get it?". 

That was then followed up quickly by God reminding me - "Honey, you just think you got it!"

Bro. Ken actually focused on another scripture found in Matthew 16:24-28; "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."  The bottom line of the message is that these are easy words to say - hard words to live out.

He went on to talk about 'Casusal Christians'.  In my speaking messages I talk about a club called 'Comfy Christianity'.  In this club (which I have been a member) we say things like - 1) "I'll pray for you" and 2) "I'm here if you need me" and the very famous Southern 3) "Bless your heart!"

Which is all code for: 1) As soon as I walk away from you I'm going to forget your prayer request.  Truth is I'm super busy and I have a ton of my own requests!  2) Please don't need me, please don't need me - I have no idea how to work you into my schedule.  3) I hate that things are bad for you right now.  I don't mean to rub it in, but I'm just great and the Lord is blessing me left & right!

Everyone of you reading this (especially females) know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Two years ago during our UpWards basketball and cheer leading program – promoted to the community, we had around 400 children playing in our gym. Less than 100 of those were “our” church kids. I coached a cheer leading squad and out of my 14 girls, only 3 of those had a church home (and none of them were members of my church). All of my girls came from very poor and very rough backgrounds. One night I noticed on of my girls, her mother was very distressed. As I approached her I saw that her blue jeans were torn from her pocket nearly down to the bottom of her pants leg. She was trying to hide her tears and her torn jeans with her daughter’s jacket. When I asked her how she was doing that night --- I had no idea what I was getting myself into. She shared with me about the domestic assault that had happened moments earlier that lead to her torn jeans, she told me about the drug addictions that lead to her car being reposed, and the affair between her best friend and her husband (before the assault she had accidentally ran across a sex text).

I did not want to know all that. I went to church that night to teach a few cheers and maybe distribute a few hugs to some young girls with a questionable home life. I did not want to invest in this person and her life that was so different from mine..  I had a choice to make at that moment - to take up my cross and deny myself OR to say, “I’ll pray for you. I’m here if you need me. And, bless your heart.” 

As I mentioned, I went to church that night to teach a few cheers – but God intended for me to host a banquet.

Seeing desperation in the eyes of “the poor” who lived in my own backyard was a wake up call for me.  A life devoted to Christ also has a public and transforming relationship with the world. It’s hands on. It’s dirty. It’s heart breaking and I can guarantee that you will not be comfortable. So, have you hosted a banquet?  For me - it's been awhile.  On Sunday, thanks to Bro. Ken - I was reminded of that.  Will you be on the look out for opportunities to host along with me?

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