Jesus, I welcome you into my life with the same radical hospitality in which you welcome me.
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ʻCome, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.ʼ Then the righteous will answer him, ʻLord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?ʼ And the king will answer them, ʻI tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.ʼ” (Matthew 25:34-40)
I was in the Waffle House (WH) yesterday sitting at the counter and I started up a conversation with a new cook who just recently started working there. He looked in his early to mid 20s and had the normal piercings and tattoos of a WH employee. As we talked he told me he moved up here when he was 18 to attend college at UAH. His major was Chemical Engineering and he had one more semester to go and will graduate this spring. He said when he graduates it will have taken him 6 years to get his 4 year degree because it has been a struggle at times, but he hasn’t given up.
Our conversation got around to family and Thanksgiving and I asked him about his plans. He got a little quite as he talked. He said I really don’t know where my mother is, she left us when I was little. My dad is in Montana and we talk now and then. I have a sister in Las Vegas and a brother who I think is in North Carolina. We don’t talk much. I replied, so you do not have any family support at all do you? He said no, for the past 6 years I have been pretty much trying to make it on my own.
I though to myself Wow! My oldest daughter just moved out of the house and went away as a freshman in college. I thought of all the help she had from family moving into her dorm, setting it up and getting what she needed, phone calls and visits of encouragement, and financial support. This young man received no support at all. Then I also thought, he has no place to go to, no table to sit at for a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.
As I spend time intentionally and missionaly hanging out in my community, I am discovering there are many, many people out there like this young man. Young adults from broken families, single moms struggling to make it on their own, elderly on welfare who are isolated and alone. During the holidays there are lots churches, agencies and ministries that provide food, food boxes, and meals for those with low income, isolated, and marginalized in their community. However, as much as they need food, even more so they need fellowship.
Most of these churches/agencies/ministries ask their congregations and people to drop of food items to be handed out to those in need. People giving come and bring food and drop it off for the food boxes to be handed out. People receiving come and get a box or have it delivered to their home. The people giving walk away satisfied they have given. The people receiving walk away satisfied they have received. However it is all a transaction and it does not foster transformation. These church and ministry outreaches actually insulate people from contact with the poor, isolated and marginalized. As dropping off food to a church removes all contact with the poor and isolated, and dropping off food to a home keeps contact to a polite minimum.
Instead of churches/agencies collecting names of people who need a meal to hand out to them a food box, they need to hand out names of people who need a meal, and have the “givers” invite them over to their house to share a meal at their table. Then it is no longer a transaction but an invitation that allows transformation. Above when Jesus says, “You gave me food” he does not mean you dropped off can goods and mac and cheese boxes at your church, he meant you personally shared a meal with him. When Jesus says, “I was a stranger and you invited me in” he did not mean you scooped mashed potatoes in a serving line somewhere, he meant you invited him into your home. When ha says “I was naked and you clothed me,” He did not mean you dropped your second hand clothing off to Good Will, he meant you personally gave me cloths.
We need to get beyond ministering as a transaction and go deeper into ministering as transformation. We need to be brave and bold enough to allow ourselves to be personally involved in those we minister enough to love them, and even braver and bolder to allow them to love us.
My family, I pray as you plan your charitable holiday giving and holiday meals the Holy Spirit will convict and remind you of the way Jesus personally and intimately saves, provides for and ministers to you. How he always seeks a transformational relationship in which he can love you and you love him. I pray the Holy Spirit will encourage you to save, provide for, and minister to others in the same way. In Jesus name. Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!!!
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