❝Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.’❞ Luke 5:29-32
Reflection by Libby Robertson
As I read this verse I feel inferior but joyful and hopeful.
If I am to use our spiritual gift of hospitality (welcoming), I must accept the people of God’s creation as they are: with their transgressions, their differences, and their quirks. I can welcome people to social hour and offer them a cup of coffee, but is this what Jesus is talking about?
I sometimes welcome my Brothers and Sisters in, but do I “eat with them” as Jesus did? Acceptance, true welcoming, is inviting people in as they are, and giving of myself without expecting anything in return. I dare not miss my opportunity to connect with those in need of healing by God, for in that connecting, I may also be renewed in spirit.
I struggle with the true meaning of this myself. Have you ever been in a situation of having someone very close to you make the mistake of doing something you and society judge as wrong? I have, and I have been given more that one chance at redemption–like it’s up to me. Yet I do not desire to be exposed by giving that next chance to another. Have I forgotten the uncertainties I have? No, but I have tried to forgive, and continue to work on this daily. I pray for forgiveness for not welcoming others as God does. Jesus said the world would know his disciples by their love for each other (John 13:35). Loving–not condemning.
I may judge others too quickly: being different is not being wrong, nor does it always mean there is separation from God. If I truly welcomed another in, I wonder what a difference it would make. Marvin J. Ashton said: “Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and forgiving heart, the one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them.”
You see, I have been through some difficult situations where I sometimes didn’t know if what I was doing was pleasing in God’s eyes. Christ has, with arms open, welcomed me back each time. I know Christ is my redeemer, my friend and my hope for eternity. My dear friends, I have sat at the table of forgiveness with Jesus many times, and I hope to hold his hand in the garden of eternity!
Lord, give me the heart to welcome those who are left out, overlooked and forgotten in my world. Humble me gently so that I am not so full of myself that I won’t help others in need. Graciously I pray, in your name! Amen.