Story Behind The Song: Come To The Table

 

Come To The Table

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the difference between the have’s and the have nots. 

It’s becoming more and more polarizing by the minute in America.

Those who have immigration status, those who do not. Those who have been protected under an asylum act for years and now face the reality that protection being lifted. The popular kids at school and the outcasts.

I didn’t realize it growing up, but I recognize it now. I had some significant privileges that I mostly took for granted.  Things as simple as freedom from fear of looking over my shoulder. 

For much of our world, there is a desire to be a part of the “in” crowd, to find a place of belonging, a state of “perminant status” - in circles that extend far beyond just immigration.

The fascinating reality is that Jesus’ approach to hospitality is countercultural to our western way of thinking. Where we would prefer to welcome in the people who can provide some sort of kickback for us, Jesus says to welcome the stranger, the poor and the outcast. The parable that Jesus told in Luke 14 has taken a hold of me. Jesus’ table is open to anyone who is willing to come. There is no elite and there is no inner circle. All are welcome! 

I recently learned that the Greek word for hospitality used in the New Testament is actually translated as the "love of strangers.” True biblical hospitality is loving strangers, immigrants and enemies. 

The reality is, if we are going to live out biblical hospitality, it’s going to require open arms that welcome anyone and everyone to come to the table. Regardless of where they were born. Irrespective of their native tongue.

Acceptance is different from acknowledgment; tolerating someone is different than welcoming them. 

Jesus always was welcoming people to the table who were very different from him - and very different from each other.

Have you ever thought about WHO exactly Jesus invited to his table when it was his party to call? When Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples (what we usually call communion today) he welcomed 12 vastly different people.

Check out the flyover of each of those table guests:

Bartholamew was born royal blood. 

Andrew was the self sacrificing, devoted follower always inviting others to Jesus. 

John was a hottheaded with a temper. 

Judas was a traitor. 

Thaddeus was a nationalist prone to violence.  

Matthew was a tax collector, who by all standards in that time were considered criminals. 

Peter was a fisherman, a blue collar worker who was married. 

Phillip was a pessimist. 

Simon was a zealot; who by the way, were fanatical haters of Roman’s, people not like them.  

Thomas was a doubter and a pessimist.  

Jesus chose people who were different, some of them were hated, but he made them his own. 

He saw the potential in each one and he still sees the potential in each of us today. 

Jesus invitation wasn’t and isn’t limited to the perfect people. 

In fact, Jesus invitation extends to every single person on the planet today. 

I’m so thankful that Jesus doesn’t discriminate! 

Come as you are. 

That’s the invitation to any table that Jesus is seated at. 

He welcomes you to the table. 

When you’re at your best and when you’re at your worst. 

He welcomes you as you are and he loves you too much to leave you disconnected, isolated where you are. 

So the next time you sit down at table for a meal think about this question. 

Who is the one person most unkind you and is the least likely candidate to be seen at that table with you? 

Then invite that person to join you - so that you can listen and learn about their perspective and hear their story. 

Because that person is probably the most likely candidate to need you at the table with them. 

The song “Come to the Table” in a sense, is a way of sending out the invitations to the outsiders and outcasts, those who think there’s no place for them. That everyone who has never felt a sense of belonging would be given the gift of invitation and acceptance, welcome and belonging. Come join us at the table today. We saved you a seat. 

Mark Alan Schoolmeesters

 
 

 

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