The social distinctions that were very explicit in the world of Jesus are still present in our time. It was clear who was higher and lower, included and excluded, important and unimportant. It still matters far too often in our Christian communities. Jesus holds his followers to a different set of values. They are called to humble themselves and seek to model a social system marked by radical inclusion. It is in stark contrast to what his world held. Humility and inclusion were very rarely considered virtues in the Greco-Roman moral world. Yet, these are the values Jesus upheld. There was a reversal. the lowest place is to be chosen and those who cannot return the invitation, “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind”, are to be invited. The world is turned upside down by a radical vision that all people are invited to the community of Jesus. In our time, any worshipping Christian community that is not shaped by this is denying the kingdom vision of Jesus revealed in the Gospel of Luke.
Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you,
Who are the” poor, lame and blind” of your social world? How are they excluded or included from your community? How do your religious leaders treat them? What is expected”? Where are the “highest places” at the table?
When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.
Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven,
The gospel is before all else a call to live differently, so that life can be shared with others.
Jesus’s identity as one of the least of these is not a romantic, charitable notion; it is Jesus’s reality. The homeless, the poor, the incarcerated are Jesus’s friends, family, disciples, and followers, and Jesus himself. —Jessica C. Williams
Fellowship is a kind of belonging that isn’t based on status, achievement, or gender, but instead is based on a deep belief that everyone matters, everyone is welcome, and everyone is loved, no conditions, no exceptions. Brian McLaren
I pray, I dream that we become a people who are known not because we have a huge steeple or beautiful stained glass or interesting buildings but because we are so hospitable, so celebratory, that we are constantly inviting others in and sharing Jesus.