Earlier this year I took the opportunity to read The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. As Manning goes on and on about the tremendous love and grace of God, he pauses in one chapter to share a story about a friend who is uneasy about having dinner with Christ in heaven. She’s uneasy because she isn’t the one who will get to choose who’s sitting with her at the table.
This story has challenged me to consider whether I have the same sense of uneasiness. I’ve challenged myself with questions such as:
- Am I willing to sit and dine with those who look, act, think, work, and live very differently than myself?
- If not, why not?
- If so, why am I not taking more opportunities to dine with them now, on this side of heaven?
- Am I to only build relationships with those who have similar interests as hobbies as myself?
- In what ways can I be more intentional to build relationships with those who do look, act, think, work, and live differently than myself?
Ouch. These questions are difficult, even painful to think about. It feels like Jesus Himself is standing with me whispering, “You’re invited. Come and dine.”
“But Jesus, who will be sitting with me?”
“It doesn’t matter. I have a seat reserved just for you.”
“Come and dine.”
You see, Jesus spent years of His life and ministry being with those who looked, acted, thought, worked, and lived very differently than He did. He dined with sinners and tax collectors. He showed a prostitute that she was loved by God more deeply than she knew. He told stories of how His own people (the Jews) walked on the other side of the road from somebody who was beaten and left for dead, and how a Samaritan – a people group loathed and hated by the Jews – gave aid to the man in need. He took a rag-tag group of twelve men and revealed to them that they were created by God for a magnificent purpose. One that would forever change the trajectory of their lives. He then invited you and I to follow in His footsteps. To come and dine with Him, not being concerned or afraid about who else may be at the table.
All in all, Christ’s words and actions should stir a reckoning deep within us. We should be confronted by our own thoughts, fears, and feelings. We should be asking ourselves how much it really matters who else is sitting at the table, and simply rest in knowing that He is sitting at the head. And maybe, just maybe, we should each be considering who we can have join us at the table here and now.
Each and every day, we’re being transformed into the image of Christ. May our prayer continue to be one of being transformed into His image and not asking Him to be transformed to ours.
As David prayed,
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.