“Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
I recently sat with a friend who happens to be a Professor of Economics as well as a performing arts enthusiast. As we discussed various local stage productions he had participated in, the fiscal side of his brain began to turn. He described how one group he had been involved with would routinely put on performances that did not turn a profit. The reason for this pattern: the pool that they drew their audience from was too small. Or in the words of my economist friend, “We couldn’t turn a profit while only selling tickets to our friends. We didn’t have enough friends.”
While my friend had marketing in mind, I think we can draw a few spiritual ideas from this line of thinking. Often our churches consist of our close friends and family. And while I am not primarily concerned with turning a profit (take a moment to re-read the above Scripture), I am concerned with expanding the size of our circle of influence for Jesus. How can the Kingdom of God break into new people and places when we don’t go to new people and new places?
With this in mind, some of our group gathered at a local park this past Sunday to assemble and pass out care packages for the homeless. We want to be a blessing to our friends and families. But we cannot neglect the words of Jesus as he compels us to extend an invitation of blessing to those who have little or nothing to offer in return (I have to say, we were blessed by this experience).
So who are the people that you interact with beyond your friends and family? How could you bless those who cannot bless you in kind?