‘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 NIV)
Yesterday a homeless man walked in and sat among a group of us having a planning meeting at a downtown church campus. The majority of us (or maybe all) are members of church staffs or were in full time ministry. We were wrapping up lunch and were about to discuss the topic of the Kingdom of God. At first none of us realized the man was homeless or wasn’t a part of the group. He sat down with confidence and a smile at one of the meeting tables we were using, quietly said some things to those around him, and flipped through his Bible. He was talking in sort of gibberish and seemed to have significant mental issues, but I don’t think all of us caught onto this at first. Once we did, in the awkwardness (and some nervousness) of realizing that he was not a part of our group, he was politely but promptly invited and led out. None of this was with any ill will toward the man, I think it just happened so quickly that some auto “safety and order” procedures kicked-in.
However, I know for me, as the conversation about the Kingdom immediately followed, I felt a great sense of irony, embarrassment, and conviction. I’m pretty sure we/I missed an opportunity to directly experience and practice the very topic we were discussing. I pray that I don’t miss such opportunities again (or, at least, that I recognize them more quickly and frequently). I don’t want a 20/20 hindsight version of the Kingdom of God. I want to see and act in the world, in living moments, the way Jesus did. I’m pretty certain that if this meeting were in one of the Gospels—”…and a homeless man, plagued with a broken mind, wondered in and sat among them…”— it would have been a different story.
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