If you could have any person who is living or who has lived as your dinner guest, who would you invite? For me, that is not as easy a question to answer as I once thought it was. Who would I invite? I might invite Abraham Lincoln. What was it like for this socially awkward country boy to rise from frontier poverty to the Presidency? How would he view his place in history?
. . . or maybe my guest would be Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, who came to that office only after spending decades in prison for his protest against apartheid. What is it that keeps a man’s spirits up when he is denied freedom and normal human contact with family and friends? What keeps one from merely giving in to the circumstances of life and giving up?
. . . but I also would enjoy spending an evening with Andy Griffith, particularly if he brought his guitar and was willing to move to the front porch after dinner. Who knows, we might think about going down to Gomer’s filling station to get a bottle of pop . . . or we might just sit and rest in the cool of the evening.
What about Jesus? Wouldn’t he be a great guest with whom to spend an evening? Maybe; though as I think about the dinners at which he was a guest, I recall that more often than not he made his hosts uncomfortable and, I suspect, more than a few of the other guests.
The truth is that any one of these might-be guests could cause me to be uncomfortable. Lincoln might remind me that the price of union is the willingness to tolerate difference while assuring all people freedom no matter what their race, culture, or religion.
Mandela might well challenge me to discover that inner peace is not determined by outward circumstances but by the causes to which one gives one’s life.
Dear, gentle Andy might dare to suggest that community means putting people first and that doing so sometimes means bending rules, being true to the troublesome folk who are part of the community, and finding goodness in the smelly town drunk.
I can’t have dinner with Lincoln and it’s very unlikely that Andy or Nelson Mandela will be sitting down to a meal at our house. Jesus does eat here—each and every day. Each and every day, he makes me uncomfortable. I’m sometimes tempted to disinvite him; but, while I sometimes try to ignore him, I never tell him to leave. Am I masochistic?
No, I am hope-filled. If I eat and walk with him long enough, it may be that I will walk more like him and that those at my table will be those whom he would welcome to His.
Ah, that may make me the source of someone else’s discomfort.
Umm! If there were more uncomfortable Jesus-followers, might the world be more comfortable?