I am so grateful that our church has partnered with these five strategic ministries in our city: Widows Harvest, Metanoia, East Lake Expression Engine, Hope for the Inner City, and The Church of the First Born. I want to encourage you to participate in at least one of these ministries because the Bible prescribes it as basic to our obedience and faith in Jesus. Let me explain.
I have vivid memories of hearing this phrase repeatedly as a little boy: “Dinner is almost ready. Wash up before you come to the table!” When my mom said those words she expected that I would actually prepare and wash my hands. Inspection of both of my “little meat hooks,” as my mother and father nicknamed my hands, was a regular practice before being seated.
Preparation for an even greater meal, with an even greater family, is at the heart of the Christian life.”
Preparation for the meal was important in my family. Beyond washing up, Mom or Dad would prepare me for other seated guests with whom we would eat. I was to be welcoming and honoring to others at the table, treating them like family. That meant I passed food to them first and waited politely before I filled my plate. Why do I bring this up?
Preparation for an even greater meal, with an even greater family, is at the heart of the Christian life. The meal for which we are to prepare is the wedding feast of the Lamb at which every true believer will be seated when God brings his redemptive work to consummation. The greater family is the family of God, gathered by sovereign grace from every culture and people group. And the preparation requires a “washing up” and welcoming those seated with us whom we may not know and further honoring them as family.
God commanded his people from the earliest moments when the Bible was first written to seat other races at his table and their table. When Israel was being set free from captivity and was on their way through the wilderness, Moses wrote the law and stated this repeatedly:
Deut. 14:26 “You and your household shall eat in the presence of God and rejoice…vs.29 “and the aliens and fatherless and widows may come and eat and be satisfied…”
Deut. 16:14 “Be joyful at your feast – you, your sons and daughters, your servants, the Levites and the aliens.”
Is it not amazing that after being abused by an “alien” culture like Egypt, God commanded that his people immediately learn to seat people from other races hospitably and favorably at their table? I suggest to you that God is saying: you are my new people and you do not abuse other races! You welcome them to your table. You take initiative. You invite. You welcome. You sumptuously feed. You do this with your sons and daughters at the table that I, the living God, provide. You do this from the very beginning of being my new people. No waiting until you have recovered from slavery. Now…start now! No hesitation should mark you.
I think that this is so important to him because he knows where we are headed.
He is preparing us for the banquet that will surpass all feasts and will in fact end all time. “The Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for ALL PEOPLES…” (Isaiah 25:6) This is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. (Rev. 19:6-9)
Do you see how intentional God’s people were and are to be? Do you see that God said it from the very beginning of their being his new people? This is not advanced Christianity. This is kindergarten Christianity. This is Faith 101. Welcome the other races to your table.
We can hear the echoes through history: dinner is almost ready. Wash up before you come to the table. Only now it is not our dirty hands that need washing. It’s our passively sinful hearts that need Gospel grace to wash away our cultural arrogance and self-satisfied distance from other races.
So, new people of God: Take initiative. Invite. Welcome. Participating in one of the opportunities presented by our home missions strategic partners I mentioned above can be a great first step on your part to obey the Lord in the area of racial reconciliation. You can find a complete list of opportunities at this link.
Here are two immediate opportunities:
You are welcome to the Community Thanksgiving Service, Wednesday, November 22 at 7:00 pm at Church of the First Born. The offering will be for Widows Harvest Ministries.
You can contribute to Hope for the Inner City’s Christmas Store and even volunteer. We will have a big family night celebration on December 6 to culminate our gathering of toys and gifts.
LMPC family: dinner’s almost ready. Wash up and prepare to come to the table. No hesitation. Let’s welcome with faithful hospitality.