How Will You Choose? When God’s Guest List Is Not Our Own

It’s a matter of taste. And sometimes life leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. What better time to, “taste and see the goodness of the Lord?” like the sweet psalm says. O, YOU know that old saw. “There’s just no accounting for taste!” Remember what your mamma or your papa said when you showed up with that early date for Saturday’s dance? Or what the Trustees and the painters said when they saw the color I picked for the parsonage study when I first arrived? (Primrose! Meghan and Beverly said, “Yuck.” Our son just called it, “The angry room.”) ‘No accounting for taste. Why not come to a dinner more delectable? Come, taste and see the goodness of the Lord. You might remember that first college roommate. The one the school assigned. Where on earth…? Ahh, just no accounting for taste. Now that’s just another way of saying there’s no accounting for difference. Difference. In people. In things. In ideas. In priorities. In ways of living/being. In values and traditions. How on earth do we deal with difference? ‘Especially when the difference is between us and God?

Jesus and his church can help us learn to deal with difference. Especially on a day when Christ invites the whole world in all its diversity to his table. We’ll go away with a whole new taste in our mouths. And a whole new way of looking at what happens when God’s guest list is not our own! To begin with, ‘turns out Jesus invites us to see with new eyes, even before were invited to eat at the same table. And it turns out there’s a new urgency afoot in Christ Jesus. And one more thing. It turns out there’s a new opportunity at table. It’s not about just selecting from the menu. It’s about selecting the right priorities for our lives, here to hereafter.

Jesus doesn’t just offer to feed our hungers, body and soul. He offers to open our eyes to a whole new world. He invites us to see everything and everyone in a radically new light. Believers always believe they’ve got it just right. We’re in. They’re out. We’re favored/saved. They’re different/not. We still teach our kids with the little game, “Which One Does NOT Belong.” As adults, we still play the game, only now it’s for keeps. Wall Street vs. Main Street made the news this week. Republican vs. Democrat, too. Christian, Muslim, Jew. Black, white, brown. Rich, middle class, poor. Arundel vs. Meade High. Public School vs. home school. Us. Them. It’s all about difference. This was so in Jesus’ day, too. Believers were just certain they knew what it would look like when God made the Kingdom come! Par-ty! Par-ty! A feast of feasts. They, of course, would be the guests of honor. Those different, NOT. Well Jesus comes to say God has a different guest list. O, he knew the custom alright. The host invites the guests well in advance. Then, on the feast day when all’s ready, the word goes out, come! It was way-bad manners to say yes to the general invitation and no on the day itself. Well Jesus says God’s been inviting his Chosen People since forever, but when Jesus comes, Kingdom in hand and heart, many refused him. So what is heaven to do? Invite the folks from the streets and alleys. That would be the tax collectors and sinners. The very folks Jesus often hung (out) with! Oh, and the gentiles, too. GASP! “Not them!” Yep. ‘Turns out God in Christ sees them as souls God has his heart set on winning to his side, just like ours. God sees their humanity. Their hungers, even of soul. Their foolish pride, so much like ours. Their sin, like ours. Their face, a canvas on which to paint God’s own portrait, just like ours. So the word goes out, “Come to the table.” And many do. Now the question is, with a guest list like this, what about me? Will I accept; will I come? What about you? Will we see those who are different as God in Christ sees them? God’s passion. Christ’s cross. For us, for them, for all. (Clean your glasses before coming to the table today. Blink twice. Three times. This is an eye-opener!)

Along with new eyes comes a new urgency at the Table of the Lord. Our time, it appears, is God’s time! So God’s time ought to be our own. But alas, ‘taint so. Where we use a watch, God uses an hour glass all God’s own. The Jesus Book (NT) calls these chronos (clock time) and kairos (Kingdom time). If there were 1 single difference we most need to address in our lives, this may be it. Forget about standard and daylight, and time zones east to west. Here’s the thing. Are we livin’ on heaven’s time, or some other of our own? What difference does it make? Jesus sees it like this. Some of us spend our time on our business above God’s invitation to Table. (Remember in Christ’s story the one who bought a field?) In times that have so many calling their broker, their banker and their credit company, how many of us call upon God in Christ? And how often do we ask to be shown our real wealth, our Christ-died-for-you worth, and our you-belong-to-me security with the Lord? Don’t wait for tomorrow. This is urgent. Accept your invitation today! Some of us spend our time on our novelties above God’s invitation to know God through fellowship with Christ. ‘Member the fella in Jesus story who says to the host, “I can’t come, I’ve bought these five new oxen!” Well not many of us have used that one lately. But we have mentioned the new camper. Or the latest new adventures at the Purple or Burgundy and Gold Cathedrals. Or the new job that gets us to work by 7:30 AM with no time for prayer or devotions on the way to work. (Except for the occasional mention of God’s name in traffic. Oh, so holy!) Jesus says God is so eager for us, Heaven can’t wait! This is urgent. Accept your invitation today! O, Jesus knows. We hope that God will wait. Like the newly-wed in Jesus’ story, we’re under the impression that family oughta come first. And that’s usually OK, except when we become so pre-occupied with our little band, we forget we’re related to family as big as the number of the grains of the sand. The Book says so. Jesus says so. When there’s a difference of opinion over time, Heaven says, “I am the Giver of time. And I have made you to have time for one another, and for me!” The most joyous of our families includes the whole human family. Take the time. Make the time. It’s urgent! Accept your invitation today!

Dealing with difference. It requires a new way of seeing. A new way of keeping time. And a new order of ordering our every day. World Communion Sunday reminds us yearly that God Godself has already selected the menu at the Kingdom Feast! We are, and can, and will be entirely satisfied by the Bread and the Cup. Ours is not the menu, but the invitation. To come or not. To draw close or not. To embrace each person and perspective God has invited or not. To keep time with Heaven here on the earth or not. To live by Kingdom time or human time and to know the difference or not. To pray, “Not my will but thine,” or not. To set out every day in every way to be more and more like Jesus… or not. Here is the one difference, the only difference that makes all the difference. How will you choose?

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