January 13, Sunday

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Who’s in Your Calendar?”

Luke 5:19

“Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.”

Luke 11:37

“As Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee invited Him to dine with him; so He went in and reclined at the table.”

Note: The topic of this devotional is inspired by the passage “The Brotherliness of Jesus” in The Character of Jesus by Charles Edward Jefferson.

I have an aunt who we consider incredibly sociable; my relatives jokingly relay stories about how “nosy” (in my mind, ‘curious and bold’) she was as a child, how she would go to the local barbershop to shampoo other people’s hair or follow friends’ families to the market and watch over others’ vegetable stands. Once, when we passed by a swanky new high-rise, she remarked that she considered buying a unit but didn’t after chatting with a tile-layer who confirmed a rumor about poor installations. She is as comfortable with a storeowner of luxury goods as she is with the store’s security guards. She is not Christian, but despite that, when I spend time with her, I am left with a deep appreciation for the humility with which she approaches others. Her lifestyle indicates a belief that each person is incredibly valuable and important, so she is both comfortable and interested in getting to know people of all backgrounds.

When we read about how Jesus spent His time, we see that He spent it in the presence of both religious leaders as well as people of poor reputation. One does not get the impression that Jesus did so out of dutiful politeness or showed up purposely just to expose hypocrites and correct them (one might be surprised, after reading Luke 11, that He still receives invitations to dine in Luke 14). We see that He was accessible and made Himself accessible to people of all classes and reputation, and that they desired His company as well. Though we know with our minds that God loves the entire world, we rarely appreciate how marvelous this versatility was. He made time for people who were rich and poor, religious and non-religious. He was able to make good conversation with them and enjoyed them as well.

How many of us purposely plan our schedules or are truly interested in spending time with people different than us? I will confess that I usually do not, nor do I make myself available to receive invitations, and I rarely give up that prized pocket of dinnertime. In contemplating the life of Christ, we should be challenged to recognize that God’s heart is for people of all types and characteristics. My encouragement for myself and for you is to spend time assessing how our time is spent. Do we make room to fellowship with and enjoy people from all walks of life, including those who share differing or opposing views? Could we take steps towards cultivating a heart of love that looks more like God’s, roomy and spacious for many others? Perhaps we can start at church today by saying hello to and taking steps towards building friendship with people we do not ordinarily fellowship with.

Our hindrances may be fear of awkwardness or rejection, or of an attitude that it is impossible for us to learn how to love those different than ourselves. Let’s confess these to God and ask Him to replace our fear and our resistance with His heart. From there, He will reveal and grant us a heart that is genuinely interested in understanding and embracing the wide spectrum of the people He created and cherishes. Let’s be people who eagerly desire to see beyond our familiar worlds into all the others that God also loves.

Prayer: Father, thank You that You love me so deeply. Teach me what it is that You love about others, and give me a heart to know and love them as well. Help me also to better appreciate Your love as I begin to learn how it is so varied and thorough for each person that I encounter. Would You show me how You love people that I do not naturally gravitate to and give me a fuller heart of love that resembles Yours? Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 15

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