Summary: In this passage Jesus teaches us to: 1. Reach out and accept everyone 2. Reach out and rescue the lost 3. Reach out and build relationships
Scripture: Luke 15:1-10
Proper 19 (24)
Title: Pull Up A Chair!
In this passage Jesus is telling us to
1. Reach out and accept everyone
2. Reach out and rescue the lost
3. Reach out and build relationships
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sins of the world!
Did you know that church meals can be quite educational and informative.? In fact, you can learn more at a church meal than you can in a church parking lot, around the entrances of a church or on the inside of a church. Churches that want to be good practice the art of hospitality. It starts in the parking lot. They understand that the first five minutes are crucial so, they have parking lot greeters, door greeters and inside greeters. Everything is designed to greet you in the name of the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Truly great churches do one more thing. They practice the art of table fellowship. More than once I have heard people say that the church does a great job in welcoming people but not such a good a job of including people when it comes to table fellowship and small group activities. It's one thing to be greeted warmly but it is another thing to be greeted and have someone tell you - "Pull up a chair and sit with us".
Being included at the meal table is a big deal. It's been a big deal ever since we all went to elementary school and began eating in the school cafeteria. The cafeteria is where separation and division are experienced at its very best and very worst. You might be included as a team player in the class room or on the gym floor but you know you truly belong if you are invited to come and eat with the group.
Most of us this morning know both the joy and the sorrow that can come with group meals. You get your food and then you begin to scan the room looking for someone to welcome you to their table. You want to hear the words - "Pull up a chair and join us." It can be a time of rejoicing or rejection. No one wants to watch people divert their attention or say that all the seats are taken. And no one wants to find themselves having to eating alone.
One of the best and/or worst things that can happen in any church setting is to have a fellowship meal. It can be a make it or break it time. The same people who go out of their way to practice the art of hospitality can sometimes make the fatal mistake of snubbing people when it comes to meal time. Suddenly, all the good they have done is quickly wiped away.
I remember one time overhearing a group of people wondering if they should allow someone to join their group. The people were new to the church and were trying to find their place. After a few moments of discussion the group decided against it and closed off the circle. They wanted to talk among themselves and after all they had greeted them during the "passing of the peace" time in church. They didn't think that they had to sit with them too.
In our passage the same thing was happening with the Pharisees and scribes. They wanted to limit who they would share fellowship. They didn't want to have just anyone "Pull up a chair". They didn't want to eat with "sinners and tax collectors" nor did they want to talk to them. They believed that God wanted them to stay as far away from such people as possible. They believed that if God Himself was on the earth He would act the same way.
It's one of the reasons the Pharisees and the scribes didn't like Jesus. They thought he spent way too much time eating and drinking with "sinners and tax collectors". They believed that he should emulate them in living a life of purity through separation. They knew better than to hang around such spiritual riff raff. Tax collectors were greedy, boorish and deceptive. No one who wanted to be pure and holy would ever think of hanging out with the "sinner" crowd.
It's right here that we have to be careful. It's tempting to get all high and mighty and think that these Pharisees and scribes behavior was detestable. It's easy to read this and say that we would not be the same way. It's easy to think that if we had been there we would have made a place for those tax collectors and sinners. We would have been the first ones to say - "Pull up a chair and sit down with us."