Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14
Lately, I can’t stop thinking about the future of the church. I am not worried, because the fact is, God is in control… and Jesus said that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. So, knowing God has everything under control, I am free to listen to Him as He guides and directs me by His Spirit and by His Word. I am free to think, and to love and to be… what He wants me to be.
This is what I know about my Lord… He is good… He is kind… He is powerful… He is righteous… He is just… He is loving! (And so much more!) Armed with His Spirit and His Word and the experiential knowledge of who He is… I am inspired to join Him where He is working. I am compelled to share the reason for the hope that I have found in Him with others. I am thinking, “How can I be a better disciple?” And a good disciple, makes disciples! So I am considering all of the possibilities.
There are a lot of great ideas floating around about how to make disciples. Sometimes picking a method and sticking to it can work really well. Some people are not as good with prescriptions and just need a more general plan of attack… they want it to be organic. God spoke through a donkey… and He also sent flaming tongues of fire to speak to those present on the day of Pentecost, so I think He can work with us all on the best way to get involved in the process if we are listening to and for Him.
There is a guy in Atlanta who believes showing hospitality can be a major tool for discipleship. He opens his home to people who need a place to stay, and while they are with him and his family, they join their daily Bible studies, pray together, discuss what it means to follow Christ, be a good neighbor, and be a good steward of their finances. He is mentoring or discipling these people by first opening his home to them. You may not have a home, and if you do, you may not feel led to invite in strangers, but you have time, talents and resources. Use them to bless others.
In Luke 14, it tells us not to have dinner parties for our friends and family or our rich neighbors because they can pay us back… it says we should be reaching out to the poor and those with special needs… and we will be blessed! It goes on to say that you will “be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous”, which is interesting because we are saved by grace through faith, not by works, so the pay-off cannot be heaven. It has to mean that we will see those we have shown hospitality to being resurrected with us. We get to see the fruit of our labor. That is exciting stuff!
Now, I have just described the game (which is no game at all) and the prize (and it is HUGE)… one strategy, and it is a game changer is to be someone who shows hospitality to those who cannot repay you. And it did not come from me; it was Jesus speaking. It may seem vague, and it may cause you to have more questions than you started with, but like I said… “God has everything under control.” He knows what you are capable of… do you know what you are capable of?
Using hospitality as a means of making disciples is going to require a lot of creativity. So, if this idea seems daunting, pray. If it seems simple, pray. If you are alone or don’t think you posses the qualities necessary to pull it off, ask God for a partner, and start actively looking for him or her. If you don’t have a place to meet or the means to provide, you will have to get really creative… because you are called to be hospitable for your own sake (you will be blessed) and for the sake of making disciples.
Once you get your mind around the possibilities, and they are many, you need to act! Some in the church are beginning to call the current generation the “Lost Generation”, because they are rejecting Christ and His Church in record numbers. I don’t care for the designation myself, but I am not swayed by the mass rejection, because lost things can be found, and lost people can be saved! We serve a God who is Mighty to save!