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Throughout history, God’s people have gathered to break bread together. A shared meal can be a beautiful picture of His Kingdom – celebrating life, serving and being present with one another, and giving thanks for His good gifts.
Perhaps that’s one reason Jesus calls us to invite the stranger – the one who doesn’t seem to “fit” in our lives right now – to our table. That person may be the one who needs a taste of Kingdom love the most.
In Luke 14, Jesus tells his dinner host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors,” but instead, “invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed...”
We, too, are called to invite people in for the sole purpose of loving and serving them. Not because of their social status or the “value” they’ll add to our gathering, or the guarantee that they’ll invite us back in return.
Who are these guests of honor, these precious ones to God?
God’s compassion for those in need is evident. He blesses us that we might be vessels for His provision to others. Isaiah 58:7 reminds us to “share your food with the hungry” and “provide the poor wanderer with shelter” and when we see the naked, “clothe them.”
The outcast and marginalized.
They don’t “fit” society’s expectations. They’re forgotten and avoided, and often in great need of an experience of God’s grace and redeeming love. These folks may look very different or behave differently from the “norm” in your neighborhood. It might be an eccentric personality, someone who struggles with an addiction or has an illness that makes it difficult to connect with others. Paul warns us against showing “favoritism” toward those we deem more desirable. (James 2:1) Jesus completely identifies with the lonely and unwanted: “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Matthew 25:35)
“Foreigners” among us.
They’re unaccustomed to the area we live in - maybe just passing through, or trying to find a place to belong. Many of us know how it feels to be the “fish out of water” in a new and unfamiliar place. In Leviticus 19:34, God calls Israel to show hospitality because they, too, were once the outsiders: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt…”
But reaching out like this isn’t the norm for many of us. The idea of opening our home to someone we don’t know can be very uncomfortable. Where do we begin?
As with every new step in our lives, it’s best to start with prayer. Remember, when we’re rooted in prayer, we’re never shooting in the dark. We’re not just looking around for someone who seems to be having a rough time. We are connecting with the Creator of the universe, who knows and cares for every heart. We can trust that He will provide connections that are purposeful and true.
Spend some time asking God to lead you to the right place at the right time, and to help you connect with those who would benefit most from an invitation to your table.
Contacting pastors and church staff – they may have an idea of who is in need in your church or your community and can help you start a conversation.
Reaching out to local organizations – it may be a rotary club, homeless shelter, nursing home, or a safe house for abused women and children. Give them a call and find out how you might make some personal connections.
Keeping your eyes and ears open – do you hear your children talking about the “new kid” at school? Offer a warm welcome to their family. Or that neighbor everyone gossips about, but no one reaches out to? Extend a hand of fellowship and invite them over.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to do it alone! It can be less awkward (and safer!) to include your new acquaintance in a group gathering. That way, they won’t feel they’re “on the spot” and you won’t have the pressure to do all the talking.
And remember, if it’s uncomfortable, you’re most likely on the right track! God specializes in drawing us out of our comfort zones. He doesn’t call us to “fit in” to society; He invites us to step out in faith, and He loves to bless us when we do!
Want to read more on what Gods says about hospitality? Check out our entire selection of hospitality articles in our devotional library. And be sure to browse through our hospitality gifts including inspirational décor, serving dishes and wall art. Also, invite a friend or loved one to discuss the importance of inviting strangers to dinner by sharing one of our hospitality Ecards - each designed with Scripture on the topic at hand.
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Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thess 5:11 CSB