While serving a remote village in the mountains of Haiti, I spent an afternoon inviting people to church. The most common response: “I don’t have nice enough clothing.” The heart of this response keeps people away in every culture: the fear of judgment, the rags of shame and the scars of old stones.
The Jesus-revolution launched a new way and a new community, an upside-down kingdom where all are invited to the table. It is a place where the poor are treasured and orphans find a home. It is a feast where earthly royalty and blue-collar tradesmen are peers. Every man-made hierarchy is crushed under the shared need to be born again and saved by grace.
I challenge you to read the gospels and note the times that Jesus is at a table or sharing a meal. Consider one example from the Gospel of Matthew:
“As Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.” Matthew 9:10
The table where Jesus wanted to be and the people he attracted and welcomed were not just the well-dressed and well-adjusted. This new community is radically different from old models, simply because everyone is invited: the religious leader and the woman caught in adultery; the wealthy tax agent and the widow who gave a penny.
Most expected the promised Messiah to wage a physical war against political oppression. Instead, Jesus pursued our hearts and laid ruin to the walls of prejudice and pride.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 3:28 & 29
This is unconditional love. This mosaic of grace defines us; it does not count every idea as equal or imply that we don not stand on a strong foundation of truth. Rather, it means that we are united not by our backgrounds, preferences or ideals, but in the fact that we are all broken people in need of the unconditional love of God.
The great equalizer is our need. The great provision is unconditional love. Jesus destroys the hierarchies of this world and sets a chair for everyone at the feast. You need not be from the right background, have nice clothes or have kept the rules to be invited. Come as you are. The table is available to you.
A passionate worship leader and gifted songwriter, Andy Needham is a devoted champion for the local church. Beyond his role with the Andy Needham Band he serves as a speaker, consultant, coach and worship leader. In 2015, the Andy Needham Band will serve as the Worship Band at Youth Unlimited’s Live It.