This past weekend we engaged in hearing from Reality LA’s pastor, Jeremy Treat, in his sermon called “The Crowd and The Disciples“. At points, I could imagine it might of been a bittersweet reminder of the times where sharing meals around the table was possible pre-pandemic. We certainly live in a time where sharing meals, or gathering with others has to be done in creative ways for safety! But overall, I think it also challenged me to think about who I “invite to my table.”
When we reflect back to Mark 2:13-17, Pastor Jeremy pointed out how those that Jesus invited to his table were sinners & people that the Jews would have found to be uncomfortable due to status or occupation. And we are left with the reminder of Jesus’ words in the face of criticism: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (vs. 17)
Considering how intimate it was to be invited to someone’s table to share a meal, I could see how shocking it must have been for the Pharisees to see the group of people Jesus sat with. Pastor Jeremy gave us the visual of imagining a seemingly “random” group of individuals with varying and many rough backgrounds. At a somewhat extreme, I picture it as a table filled with characters like: pirates, ex-convicts, loan sharks, prostitutes, and gangsters. Or even a table filled with individuals that are hard to love: those who have hurt us in the past, those who make us feel uncomfortable, those who get on our last nerve every time we see them, those who we just can’t seem to get along with. Both of these situations would leave us feeling (or at least me, anyway) uncomfortable.
But I am humbly reminded that just like those pirates, ex-convicts, loan sharks, prostitutes, and gangsters, I am a sinner. Like Romans 3:21-31 reminds us, we are all sinners–the playing field here is even. And like the individuals that are hard to love, I am also someone who can be hard to love. In other words, my need for God’s grace and steadfast love is just as great as theirs is. In fact, that was the “qualification” and underlying “quality” that gave me an invitation to His table.
At one point, I was an enemy of God (Romans 5:10)–a situation that certainly with the human perspective could be an uncomfortable dinner guest. I can’t help but first be amazed and so thankful to be reminded that out of His love, grace & mercy, God invited me to His table at the sacrifice of Jesus. Knowing all my sin and shame, He chose me to be one of His disciples, washing me clean by His blood & transforming me by His Word and the Holy Spirit. Wow. Take a moment to remember that! God is so gracious and so good. I also can’t help but be humbled to consider that if God called me to His table, His invitation also extends to those I find uncomfortable (due to their status, appearance, personality, etc.), and those who I find difficult to love.
As we look forward to beginning Life Groups, I felt called to put forth the question of “Who am I inviting to my table?” to each of us as a church family. This question could be addressed from two angles: 1. From within our church family & 2. From our community or those who do not know Jesus. I hope the following reflection questions help you first remember both the need we have for Jesus, as well as the sweet blessing it is to be invited to Jesus’ table. I hope they also help you consider how God is speaking to you this week and perhaps calling you to extend the invitation, and love those who seem “uncomfortable” or “unlovable”. I also included some worship songs that came to my mind as I considered this post today. 🙂
- In what ways may God be calling you to remember that you’re broken and in need of a Savior? (Mark 2:17 or 1 Timothy 1:12-15 for further insight)
- In what ways may God be desiring to remind you that you have been invited to His table? (For further encouragement, read Romans 5:6-11 & 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
- How might God be challenging you to rethink how you interact with (or view) those who you find uncomfortable within your community outside of church?
- How might God be challenging you to rethink how you interact with (or view) those who you find uncomfortable within our Church family (or within your extended circle of brothers & sisters in Christ)?
- Is God calling you to find reconciliation with anyone from SGPC, or another brother or sister in Christ? Pray and seek God about it.
- Is God calling you to find reconciliation with anyone outside of SGPC or outside of our faith? Ask God if He’s working in your heart the ability to invite them to your table sometime to share His love & grace.
- What are some ways you can extend an invitation to some of the people above to your table and to Jesus? Of course because of the Pandemic, “inviting someone to your table” might look a little different (like a phone call, or zoom dinner)! But it’s still possible. 🙂
I hope these songs of worship are helpful to your time of reflection. The following is a YouTube playlist I specially compiled for this post. To view it on YouTube, click here.