Jesus was at a dinner party. Looking around at the guests, he said to the host, ”When you have people over for a meal, don’t invite your mates, or your rellies, or the rich neighbour who might feel obliged to return the favour and invite you back.
Invite the left-overs and the left-outs, the oddballs and the awkward, and then you’ll know what it is to be blessed.
Because they can’t repay you, but God can. And he will, with more than a meal – with an eternal banquet in God’s own house, with you as a guest of honour.”
One of those lucky enough to be close to Jesus at the table responded, saying, ”How great it is for the people on God’s guest list, with a named place at the everlasting feast in heaven”.
Jesus replied with this tale, ”Once upon a time, a man planned a gourmet barbecue at his place, with wild venison steaks, tasty vegetable kebabs and his mum’s pavlova for dessert. He invited the whole street. Everyone who was anyone got the call and they all said they’d be there with bells on.
So when the drinks were all chilled and the steaks almost perfect, the man sent his son to tell the guests that everything was ready for them. The boy said to each of them, ‘Dinner’s up! It’s the feast of a lifetime and its all waiting for you!’
But every single guest refused. They began coming up with lame excuses. One said, ‘You know I would love to come, but I’ve just bought this lovely bit of land down the coast and I’m dying to see it. I’ll send you a postcard!’
Another said, ‘Well this is awkward, I just bought a new SUV and I promised the lads I’d take them out in it and see what it can do. Maybe next time?’
Yet another said, ‘I’ve just found the one, it’s true love! He’s perfect. I know I said I’d come, but I can’t bear to be away from him for a moment. He’s my world! You understand right?’
But the host did not understand. Instead he was furious! He sent his son straight back out again, saying to him, ‘Go past the end of our street and over to the dodgy part of town. Instead of chasing those who won’t come, I want you to track down all those who’ve believed they can’t come. Head to the rundown rest home and the grizzly gang headquarters. Find for me those too poor to eat well, those too broken to live well, those too blind to see themselves well. I want them with me! I want them well and whole and full!’
The young fella raced out and spread the news and soon the place was filling up nicely. But there were still plenty of places left empty, so the host sent his boy out again, saying,
‘Go further out. Past the edge of town to the factories and the farms. Then even further, across the rivers and through the forests and over the mountain pass. Give every loner, misfit and runaway my love and my welcome. Promise them safe passage and urge them to come back to this table. Then my house and my heart will be full. They will be my family now.
But as for those who used their God-given freedom to let their possessions and priorities keep them from coming to my table, they have chosen the deepest kind of hunger for themselves and who am I to deny them?’”