A few years ago, we had a huge family come over for dinner, and it was loads of fun! I added all the leaves to my table to give as much space as possible, and we still wound up cramming people into the corners and ends of the table. No one seemed rattled by such close proximities, and they kept saying, “there’s plenty of room at the table!”
I’ve thought about this phrase, “room at the table,” in relation to making space for people to enjoy the banqueting table that God sets for us. This reminds me of Jesus’ parable about the wedding feast and inviting people from all walks of life to come to His feast, in Matthew 22 and Luke 14:7-14. In these verses, we read that the invited guests didn’t come to the feast, so the master of the feast told his servants to go out and invite anyone and everyone who would come. There’s plenty of room at the table.
Consequently, the people who came to this feast were a mixed collection of folk – some good, some bad, some crippled, lame, poor, etc. But no matter what, there was room at the table for whoever would come to the master’s feast. I think this is really important for us to consider because there are times when we might be inclined to limit the invitation list to Jesus’ banquet table. Perhaps we just want to invite the people we like, or people who deserve Jesus’ feast, people who share our political persuasions, agree with our theology, concur with our values, and who smell nice. But there is room at the table for others who don’t think, act or talk like us.
I was reminded of this recently after having a dicey conversation with someone whom I found to be very prickly. This person is most certainly a follower of Jesus and very passionate about promoting Jesus. In our conversation, however, this person confronted me about my humanitarian work with Saving Moses, trying to understand how we make a theological impact on our babies and toddlers. Because it didn’t seem like this person expressed compassion for my babies and toddlers, I found myself getting more than a little cranky and reactive with the questions I was being asked. I walked away from the conversation with a really bad taste in my mouth for the person because there seemed to be a lack of concern for the basic welfare and survival of babies and toddlers.
As I walked away, I heard in my heart, “Sarah, there’s room at My table for your babies and toddlers of sex workers every bit as much as the person with whom you just had such an unpleasant exchange.” These were very sobering words to hear in my heart.
To that end, if we are followers of Jesus, then we are His servants who facilitate Jesus’ invitation. Jesus asks us to be His servants to invite others to experience the wonderful feast that Jesus has prepared. Jesus’ banqueting table overflows with genuine love, forgiveness, family inclusion, and opulent provisions. As servants, it’s not our job to qualify who gets invited to Jesus’ banquet or excluded from the feast. We are merely stewards to facilitate Jesus’ lavish invitation.
Consequently, let’s remember that there’s room at Jesus’ table for people who are different than us. This also means that there’s room at Jesus’ table for us, even if we are less than pristine, polished, or perfect. Jesus invites us to come and dine!