In the account of the book of Luke, chapter 14, Jesus was at the house of this wealthy religious leader, who had a bunch of guests over for a chunk of bread or two. It doesn’t say so, but they’re likely all people of the same faith and belief as him.
So Jesus does something socially unacceptable! He addresses this crowd of religious people and tells them this parable: “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
He was definitely telling this wealthy religious leader and his toadies that he and they should care for the poor and the left behind, and not just his wealthy, holy-rolling country-club buddies.
But He was also challenging this guy’s close-minded “clique” mentality. This guy wanted to be around people that believed what he did and behaved how he behaved. The religious leaders and people in Jesus’ time were often guilty of this. They did nothing but super religious things. They only hung around people like them, they only associated with people in “safe” situations where they could feel comfortable and “holy”.
And it’s no different today! People in the church- who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ- have an unspoken formula to take people through when they become saved. First- they accept Christ, then they come to church regularly, then they come to bible study, prayer meeting, all the church events, etc… The next thing you know, they’ve lost complete touch with anyone who is not a Christian- and they’re failing to fulfill the mission of Christ. They’ve become a nice “Christian”- but they’re not completely following Jesus! We’re deceiving ourselves if we think that this is what a life lived for Jesus is all about!
We need to train each other to be people of influence, who don’t attach themselves to people who don’t follow Jesus and get dragged down by bad character, but instead are STRONG in our faith and become a FORCE to draw people towards Christ by our life of love, hospitality, grace, purity, righteousness, honesty and truth. We need to invite people who are disadvantaged and outcast into our lives, homes, game board playing times, leisure times, TV watching times, hiking times, and mealtimes to taste and see that the Lord is good. We also need to keep our eyes and ears open to those that are spiritually poor, spiritually crippled, spiritually lame, and spiritually blind. We can be a light and blessing to them- we are COMMANDED to be!
And this doesn’t mean that we’ll be shoving the gospel down their throat. It means that we’ll build loving relationships, and simply be faithful to give an answer for the hope that is within us when the time is right.