I want to love as God has called me to love: those on the margins, those who are victimized, those with whom I disagree. Lent Week 6, Day 38
Who sits at your table? With whom do you share meals?
Yesterday was Maundy Thursday. It marks the day Jesus ate his last meal with his disciples. I think it is interesting to consider who was at the table that night. Judas, the betrayer. Peter, the denier. Thomas, the doubter. John, the one given charge to care for Mary. And the rest, who deserted and hid.
So who do you invite to sit at your table?
Who do I make room for at my table?
People like John, who are always present. It is easy to eat with those we love and agree with. There may be moments of disagreement or moments of frustration, but those are easier to overlook when we are in close, loving relationship with someone. I like to get together with like-minded people. It is comfortable. It is reassuring. It is encouraging.
And I think it is necessary, at times.
However, it is also necessary that I invite people to the table who challenge me.
People like Thomas, who doubt. People who are filled with despair because they look at the world around them and they feel they can no longer trust in anyone or anything. Lately, I have been finding myself to be like Thomas. And I hope people will invite me to their tables because I need to be with those who can see what I cannot see. I long for the day that what I am searching for will appear right before my eyes, but Jesus says, “Blessed are those who believe and have not seen.” I hope my table has room for Thomas.
People like Peter, who deny. There are some who have grown up their entire lives with a different faith than mine. They do not believe Jesus is Lord. They may accept him as a good teacher or a historical figure, but not divine in any way. Likewise, there are those who have shared a similar faith with me but have turned their backs on it. When faced with pressures from society, they deny ever knowing him. Their words and their behaviors become something entirely different. That saddens me. To be honest, it frustrates and, at times, even angers me. And I need to invite those people to my table. I need to hear from them. I need to know their journey; their struggle. I hope my table has room for Peter.
People like the “other disciples.” We are often tempted to be quiet. We are often tempted to keep our ideas to ourselves. We are often tempted to not rock the boat. We are often tempted to hide our faith, or at least the parts of our faith that would make us stand out in the world. We run. We hide. We don’t speak up. We are afraid. I keep using the pronoun “we” because when I say “you” or “they” I sit in judgment and pretend I am better than. I forget that I am, at times, guilty of the same behavior. I am angry with Christians who are not speaking up. But I am one of the Christians. I hope my table has room for all of us.
People like Judas, who betrayed. This is the hard one. This isn’t about someone who did something minor. This is about someone who just made a mistake. This is about inviting someone to the table who intentionally handed Jesus over to be arrested. Whether it was from purely selfish motives or he was trying to incite a violent revolt, he still did the deed that led to Jesus’ persecution and death. He betrayed everything Jesus stood for. He betrayed Jesus himself. And let’s wake up and be honest: many people in the world feel betrayed by Christians right now. There are some who have said and done some atrocious things. There are some who have aligned themselves with the power structures of this world and placed allegiance to the Kingdom to a secondary importance. They have betrayed Jesus. I hope my table has room for Judas.
I struggle with this. I need to make room for the people I disagree with; for the people I am angry with; for the people who disappoint me. I need to learn how to speak my mind in such a way that I am bold yet gracious. I need to stand up for people on the margins without pushing others out there to replace them. I need to be like Jesus in my words and deeds.
I need to make room for the people I do not want to invite: for the doubter, the denier, the deserter, and the traitor. Jesus had room for all of them. Jesus even washed their feet.