A local church is advertising a Thanksgiving dinner. The following is an excerpt from the announcement that appeared in their bulletin:
“Due to limited space, we must limit reservations to our church family, instead of including guests.”
Do you see anything wrong with this idea?
They are having a Thanksgiving dinner that is just for their church members. It is an exclusive dinner. No guests allowed. Is that what Jesus would do? Is that what Jesus would ask us to do?
How do you align that philosophy with the commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”?
How does that fit with the parable of the sheep and the goats from
Matthew 25:35. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in”
This parable gets pretty intense when you read the end of it. Here are verses 40 – 45.
“’The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
What do you think? Is it OK for a church to have a members only Thanksgiving dinner? Am I blowing this out of proportion? Perhaps you don’t see a problem here. After all, they just want to have dinner together…
What if in John 6 when Jesus was teaching the crowds and it dinner time came Jesus had said, “We have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. That should be enough for me and the disciples to each get a bite.” Was that what Jesus said? No! He gave thanks and God blessed what they had and they fed 5000 people that day. They didn’t have to turn anyone away and all they had was 5 loaves and 2 fish.
Do you think that this church is afraid of running out of food? Have you been to a church dinner lately? There is usually lots of food left over and lots of people who have eaten way too much. Do you think it is because of space/seats? If so, then the church members should be rejoicing over the problem and should be the first ones volunteering to give up their seats for the guests. You never how one small act of kindness can impact another person.
When we accepted Christ, it became our mission to reach out into the community and bring others into the church and into faith with Christ.
2 Peter 3:9 says that God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
In Matthew 28, Jesus gives us the commission to go and make disciples.
1 Corinthians 11:1 tells me to be an imitator of Christ. Am I doing what Jesus would do?
If I know of somebody in need, then it is my responsibility to show them Jesus. That can be through my actions, through my words, or even through a simple invitation to Thanksgiving dinner.
If I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I have to open my eyes to the poor, to the needy, and to the suffering. I need to look in my own community and in the world. And then I need to allow my heart to be broken by the things that break the heart of Jesus.
So what do you think? Is a members only dinner appropriate for a church family?
Take a look a the video below and think about how it relates to this scenario.