I’m currently reading A Glimpse of Jesus – Stranger to Self-Hatred, by Brennan Manning. One chapter entitled “Healing through meal-sharing” provides a beautiful confirmation of the whole concept of “inclusion.” According to Manning, the cultural implications of a first century Jew, (let alone the Jewish MESSIAH!), eating with common sinners was seismic. Meal-sharing was a sign of identification and friendship, and to sit down to dinner with the “riff-raff” of society was a one-way ticket to social disgrace.
For Jesus to share a meal with such people could mean only one of two things: Either he himself was a “sinner”, or sinners were being welcomed into fellowship with God. (And all of this before they even “went to the alter” or prayed a “sinner’s prayer!” “The inclusion of sinners in the community of salvation, achieved in a table-fellowship, is the most dramatic expression of the message of the redeeming love of the merciful God.” That’s what these past months in Sarajevo have been about: including “sinners” in the fellowship of God.
And of course this means I’ve got to stop sorting: Good fish / bad fish…. good seed / bad seed… sheep / goats… I’ve been quite a pharisee over the years, judging who’s on the inside and who’s on the outside of God’s salvation. But obviously that’s not my call to make. All I can do is welcome people to the table and love them as if Jesus himself had included them on the guest list.
Today I did some long-overdue updating on my webpage. (There’s a link to it on the sidebar). Had a wonderful dinner with my Muslim buddy, Nazim, last night. Tonight we’ve got our weekly men’s discipleship group. Clay’s gonna talk about humility.