Vision Series: For Others in the Neighborhood

Mark 2:13-17 CSBTrey VanCamp & Caleb Martinez | September 18, 2022

OVERVIEW

It is becoming increasingly difficult to share the way of Jesus with our lost neighbors. Political tribalism, spiritual suspicion, and the recent phenomenon of religious deconstruction all form a perfect storm of hostility towards Christians who try to invite others to follow Jesus.

In Jesus’ day, the world was much the same. But rather than combat or retreat from the world, Jesus confronts the world’s hostility with hospitality. The meals that Jesus shared with others were invitations to relationship, opportunities for reconciliation, and a demonstration of the love that God has for all people.

Today our mission and outreach must come from our discipleship to Jesus, and not the other way around. This means that we must learn the practice of hospitality as a way to invite others to witness the love of God. When we share a meal with others, we remind ourselves that God chose to seat us at his table in the Kingdom despite our sin. We also demonstrate to our neighbors that the love of God is on offer to everyone who wants to accept it.

NOTES

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TRANSCRIPT

Good evening Passion Creek. It’s my pleasure tonight to bring you the word from mark chapter two, while he was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples for there were many who were following him. When the scribes you were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors.

They ask his disciples. Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinner? When Jesus heard this, he told them it is not those who are well that need a doctor, but those who are sick, I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners. Amen. Thank you. Ron C George Floyd, racism, inflation political polarization, Donald Trump, Roe V.

Wade, the Supreme court declining church attendance, seminaries, closing their. Record percentages of pastors thinking about quitting. Is that you? No, we’re good. The rise will fall of bar hill. Oh my gosh. Nobody’s laughing yet. Church scandals, worship wars, culture wars, old Christians, staying home, young Christians deconstructing.

If you hold to traditional sexual ethics, you were thought in many circles to be immoral. If you raise questions about inclusivity, you are not allowed to tell yourself evangelical, which nobody is sure they want to be called anymore. Anyhow, white Christian nationalism is surging housing. Prices impossible.

Young staff, unfindable volunteers, unre recruitable, church campuses, unbuildable property unaffordable. This is a really great time to be in ministry. Amen. Amen. That was the opening line. Pastor Caleb and I were in a church conference. And that was the opening line for John Ortberg just to get us pumped and excited that we are pastors

And while we were together this week, we decided to do this message together. It’s easier to prep. We are with each other 24 7. And so we we have been formulating this whole vision anyways together. And so we wanted to share tonight man, what a great time for our church to be on mission.

We’ve been. This will all together be 10 weeks of formed by Jesus together for others. And now we are in the home stretch. We are starting the four others part, and this is a great time for Christians to be for others. Cuz the need is overwhelming. Queen Creek alone, only 39% of its residents claim. Any religion at.

Since the beginning, when we started our church in 2016, we have said that we have the two biggest demographics that we are praying for to be on mission. And it is to reach the LDS or some of you would know them as Mormons. And the atheist. And let me be clear. That’s not to confuse the two. I’m not saying they’re both similar.

When we first started, I would say it all the time and I would offend half the people because they were thinking I was lumping them in the same category, which again, we are not against either. We just think those are totally two different ideologies against the way of Jesus. But even still to this day, when we are prepping our message.

I’m thinking through pastor Calebs thinking through the questions and atheists would think about a question Mormons are struggling with, as we’re preparing our messages. Over half of our baptisms at our church are former LDS. And so that was the whole reason we started our church. It’s been the heartbeat behind our vision is to reach the lost.

And as Baptists, we know the data is really clear. If you want to reach all kinds of people, you have to start all kinds of churches. So that’s why a lot of people ask, like, why did you leave your father’s church to start your own? It was not the most comfortable thing to do, but we wanted to reach different people.

We wanted to reach more of them for the kingdom of God. And here is what I just hold onto more and more. I want you to hear this tonight. The church is not a church. If it only exists for itself, we’re not a church for the people within just these four walls. And I hope you’ve learned. These last eight weeks.

We are. So for you, we want to be with you. We wanna walk alongside of you, but God does not bless a church that does not look beyond itself, and we need the blessing of the father. And I wanted to share our story a little bit and really encourage you. Why we’re moving into real intentionality about being for others.

When we started our church, it was all about mission. It’s all it ever was. We’re here to reach and teach new people for Christ. But I soon for me personally found out my strategies, weren’t working very well from 2016 to 2017. I think my wife can attest, I was burning the candle on both. And by God’s grace, we were still having baptisms.

There were still some great things to celebrate, but we weren’t seeing whole life transformation. And if I were to be honest, the hardest part for me to admit is I wasn’t seeing myself being transformed. I was tired. I was bitter. I was mad when y’all didn’t show up every week. I had issues on my issues had.

And so I had to I kinda, some of, my story in 2018 I needed help and I went and got a spiritual director. I went and learned and re submitted myself to writers like Dallas Willard and trying to learn what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And I remember in 2018, I wrote in my journal, how can I invite people to join?

If I myself do not enjoy Jesus, that’s been a driving burden in how we have led the last couple years. We want you to enjoy Jesus. That’s an incredible strategy to reach more people. I’ve been a part of a church where I don’t even know if we mention him much, but we gotta keep getting more people in the door.

We don’t really know why come to Jesus. Come, let’s get baptisms and grow and grow. And so that’s why I’ve wanted this wasn’t Jesus’ fault at all. It was completely mine. What we’ve talked about in this series, I was being unintentionally formed by the world. So I needed to be formed by the word of God.

The things we’ve already talked about the last eight weeks, I encourage you to check out our website if you’ve missed any of it. And so I’ve really, me and Caleb have been on our own personal journeys of trying to figure out what discipleship is for ourselves. And then how do we teach it? And that’s when we stumbled across formed by Jesus together for others, we think this is our best attempt at holistic discipleship.

This idea of us enjoying Jesus and then asking. To join Jesus. I’ve often likened this to an illustration of riding a bike and you’d think I would learn this lesson cuz Caleb, I literally, I did this two weeks ago. I shared this two years ago. It happened to me again. I love riding my bike. There’s some days where I feel like it’s just hard and I just think, okay, thirties have hit me.

I just I’m outta shape, whatever. And so I’m riding the other day and I was just having the most difficult time to get. And I was about a mile down and I finally thought I should probably check my tires and they were both flat. So it wasn’t even my fault. It’s just the tires were flat. It doesn’t matter if your Lance Armstrong, if your tires are flat.

And I think a lot of us, the way the American church is formed is we’re trying to be on mission, which I think is forward thinking we wanna move ahead. But our two tires are deflated. What we call the tire of being formed by Jesus. And the tire of doing this thing together, we are convinced if you begin to be formed by Jesus and you do this in the community of the church, a natural overflow is you and I will begin to live on mission.

We’ll get further, faster. We’ll rely a whole lot more on the grace of. And more things can get done and that is our heartbeat. And so some people, some of you, I love you. You’re mission oriented. You’re like, okay, this whole vision series. That’s great. But whenever we gonna talk about mission tonight’s the night, but we actually on purpose are using mission as the last part of the spoke because we need to first be formed by.

Together. And so for the next three weeks, we are rounding out the vision series by painting a picture of what it means to be for others. And we’re gonna be for others in three different ways at our church. Tonight we’re gonna talk about specifically how to be for others in the neighborhood. Yes, sir.

That’s for Caleb I already messed it up. Go for it, man, to interrupting perfectly gonna be there. I was going to, we have to transition and everything. Here’s what we’ve been cautious about for years is that you can be on mission without being a disciple, but you cannot be a disciple without being on mission.

In other words, you can do things that look a lot like mission, and then go back to living your normal life. By following what we call the three enemies of the soul, the. Flesh and devil more than following the way of Jesus. But if you make discipleship the priority, you cannot follow Jesus with your life and not do something that looks like mission.

It’s discipleship to Jesus that ultimately transforms you and the world around you, not mission and outreach. And so when we look at the life of Jesus, we see what happens when we have print this under him and then fulfill mission like him. And so mark chapter two is our text for tonight. If you have a Bible, go ahead and turn there.

It’s gonna be up on this screen. And I’m gonna start with verse 13 and 14, actually, cuz this paints a good picture of who Jesus did mission towards. So Jesus went out again by the sea. The whole crowd was coming to him and he was teaching them then passing by. He saw Levi, the son of Alfas sitting at the tax office and he said to him, follow me.

And he got. He followed him a couple things here. First Levi was a tax collector. If you know anything about first century Rome during this time the Jewish people did not like tax collectors because they were mostly Jewish people serving the Roman empire. The Rome would collect taxes from its citizens by.

Sending a Jewish person to go and basically take tax. But that tax collector would only make their salary by choosing how much more they were gonna take. And this was not regulated. And so Levi as a tax collector was hated by the Romans because he was Jewish and he was hated by his own people, the Jews, because he was working for Rome and he could charge.

If the tax was 50%, he could add on another 20% and that 20% is his salary. And this is who Jesus calls a disciple. And this is what Jesus means when he says to love our end. This was something that he practiced. This was something that the disciples would’ve been aware of when Jesus is inviting Levi to join them.

You have to imagine his disciples being like Levi, the tax co, not this guy. They had seen Jesus do what he’s gonna call us to do firsthand verse. While he was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors, and sinners were eating with Jesus and his many. So it wasn’t just like he had his posse, he had his friends and then he tacked on one or two.

This was who Jesus chose to be in proximity with. This was his primary audience were sinners and tax collectors for, there were many who were following him when the scribes who were PISE. Saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors. They asked his disciples. Why does he eat with sinners and tax collectors?

Jesus, doesn’t just you’ll notice this. He doesn’t just move from city to city, meet people, invite them, serve them, and then move on. He actually moves into proximity. With them, hence why he’s reclining at the table with them. And this type of proximity was as eye catching then as it would be for us today, it was not within the social norms of that day.

Sinners actually specifically, we know what tax collectors are sinners according to the old Testament law and the fair, like interpretations of that law, wasn’t just a moral category. In other words, a sinner, wasn’t just somebody who broke the law, did something bad or didn’t do something that they were supposed to do.

A sinner was anybody who was unclean. So anybody who was. Anybody who was who had an illness, a deformity, the oppressed, the outcast. These were people who by Torah law. And again, fair cycle interpretation of Torah law were excluded from the presence of God because they were unclean, not just morally, but also with their lifestyle, with their illness, whatever it was.

And so you have tax collectors who were very much morally unclean, and you also had sinners people who were wicked and evil, but also poor and sick and ill and oppress. So for us, as we talk about what it means to be for others, this is like the very first thing we have to think of is in your mind right now, whatever moral framework you have, imagine the people that least deserve a seat at that table.

We all ha we’re human. We all have a category for people that we don’t like, people that we think don’t deserve a seat at the table. People that we don’t naturally get along with, who are these people that you desp. I heard one pastor once say like Jesus had cuz today tax collector center, what does that even mean?

Yeah. But imagine Jesus eaten with a pedophile. You fill away to that an ISIS member that’s who he was, who was having dinner with. That’s an incredible, that’s crazy. Yeah. Tax collector. This was something like the IRS, like it, wasn’t just a little bit of oh, that’s a bummer. Oh, that guy. Oh, that guy, these were just the deplorables.

These are the people that Jesus moves towards. And so this again, shows us why. If you wanna know why mission has to come or after discipleship is because if it doesn’t, then we get to choose. If our mission isn’t informed by our following Jesus, we get to choose who we do mission towards. For example, Jesus tells us to love our enemies.

I would argue one of the most true markers of spiritual maturity is how well you love those. Not only that you don’t get along with, but that are actually your. People that Jesus actually tells you to love. If we don’t learn to love our enemies, our outreach will always be directed at those whom.

We consider most likely to be our friends, the people that are like us, the people that we naturally get along with the people that are friendly to us, or Jesus will point out later in Luke, the people that we think we will get something. If we don’t choose to follow Jesus with our lives, our discipleship, then our mission and outreach will always be directed towards people that we like.

And not towards the people. Jesus says, the people who are sick, the unrighteous that actually need healing. So verse 17, when Jesus heard this, he told them it is not those who are well, who need a doctor, but those who are. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.

So Jesus enters a world in desperate need of healing. You have spiritual illness and legalism that kept people shackled by the Pharisees people who were poor people who were sick. People who were moral sinners kept away from the presence of God, because they could not bear the weight of the. You had tax collectors like Levi, again, turning on their own people to keep them under the boot of Rome and keep themselves powerful, affluent and influential.

And then you have, if you know your Bible, the 400 year period in between the old and new Testament where God has been silent, there has been no prophecy. God’s revelation has left people waiting. Losing hope wanting and growing in apathy. This is the climate that Jesus is doing his mission in. And if you look around at the world around us today, you’ll see that it is much the same as it.

As it is today as it was then. And so what we’ve done to help figure out ways that our city, our region is also spiritually sick in need of healing is we’ve identified what we call the four needs of our city. And when we say city, don’t just think queen Creek or Santa tan, some of you live in Mesa, some of you in Gilbert Phoenix, Johnson ranch way out there.

Think about our area. This is a cultural area, east valley as a whole our sort of greater Phoenix area. Think about how this plays out in your own context, your own neighborhoods, your own regions. First we have just at the very base level spiritual needs. Our first priority is to invite others into communion with Jesus.

That doesn’t mean that we do this first, by the way, this just means that this is our end. This is what we care about the most. Because we believe that Jesus ultimately satisfies our deepest needs and just a really practical way to meet this need is by inviting people to church. We do this many of us do this all the time, inviting people to a service like this, or maybe a group, a Bible study.

If you’re a part of our together groups there’s actually a 2016 study, which was not that long ago. I know a lot has happened since then, but a 2016 study found that 51% of Americans would come to church. If they were invited by a close friend. So it implies right close friend, have relationships with people who are not Christians who think differently than you who see the world differently than you.

This also means that 51% there is more a chance that they’ll say yes than say no, if you invite them. Wow. But that’s a spiritual need just base level that our city has. The second need is physical needs. And I think this is hard for us to see, because if you drive through our area, you don’t think.

Man, this place needs their daily bread. It looks like it’s when we started our church. It wasn’t like we had an outreach of clothing and food. Although there actually is a queen Creek resource center that we do bless and provide, but the majority isn’t that kind of need, but there are so many physical needs.

And let me tell you, this recession is hitting families. I know in my. I always have to be careful about stories because I hope they walk in one day, but even just this week, I was really ashamed because I found out one of my neighbors was dealing with a financial struggle for three months.

And I had no idea. We were just, surface level interactions. But we could have really helped him. And I told him, sorry I, we could have been there for you and I’m sorry that we weren’t. And so there are so many physical. That’s why I love our emphasis of being in the neighborhood because the kind of needs we have in our community.

Aren’t obvious. It often takes conversation. Somebody losing their job, inflation, making things too tight, those types of things. And so meeting a physical need is such a great entryway into having a relationship where they can trust you to then talk about the deeper things. Third, we have relational. So when you talk about meeting needs, usually the first two are what people think of these second two, I think are prevalent around America.

Maybe not all over the world, but especially in our contexts, they play out in different sort of very obvious ways. Our city is known for you drive up after work, you close the garage. As soon as you pull in, avoid the heat, it’s hot. So some of that is just pragmatic. We’re trying to survive, but we tend to live disconnected and isolated lives from other people.

The fact that we’re talking about our literal neighbors is shocking to some of you. Cities we just talk about being in Portland or if you’ve ever been to like, I don’t know, some other really communal cities, maybe more so on the east coast or in the south Southern hospitality plays out in a way that actually invites and welcomes and lends itself to relational connection and community in a way that east valley does not and that doesn’t mean that everybody is disconnected, but. It is true that we just don’t really know how to live in community very well. What we talked about a few weeks ago being together in groups, community is costly. It’ll cost you true community that transforms you into a person of love will cost you something, but isolation is deadly.

Isolation will destroy your soul. And in some cases destroy, the effect that it has I don’t wanna get at you share the fourth need. Yeah. And we, as a church wanna come alongside of these needs and empower you to meet those needs, it doesn’t need to be me in meeting those needs. It’s you? And how can we.

Empower you to do that. And that’s the last need is emotional needs. Me and pastor Caleb were talking about actually taking our church through a course, like another workshop on emotionally healthy spirituality. It is so crucial. So many of our issues are because we don’t know what to do with our emotional health.

We don’t know how to tend to it. And so that’s really important. So there’s a lot of depression in our area. There is a lot of. Go read my book. I have a lot of anxiety too. Okay. and I shared the whole world about it. Suicide is rampant just a few years ago. What was it like three or four high school students at queen Creek high took their life.

And I know so many still struggle with that. Those who are in youth ministry, that’s a constant conversation of trying to talk people off the ledge. And so we wanna be there for people emotionally and all that and all the things that involves. Yeah. So if those are the needs, we have a big task.

Ahead of us presenting Jesus in ways that is contextualized to actually meet those needs. But what I wanna point out is in mark two notice Jesus’s method for healing, the spiritually sick and meeting these needs. Verse 15 says many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples.

For there were many who were following him. One new Testament, scholar points out that the phrase, the son of man came the son of man being a title for Jesus. So Jesus came that occurs three times in the new Testament. And the first two times it describes why he came, what his message was, what he came to do.

It says he came to give his life as a ransom for many, and then in Luke 19 to seek and to save the lost. But the third time describes the. How Jesus came to do those things. And it comes in Luke seven, the son of man has come eating and drinking. And so our mission starts with a meal. Another new Testament scholar named Scott Barchi describes the significance of meals in Jesus day.

He says meal times. We’re far more than occasions for individuals to consume nourishment, being welcomed at a table. For the purpose of eating food with another person had become a ceremony, richly, symbolic of friendship, intimacy and unity. When persons were estranged, a meal invitation opened the way to reconciliation.

Which is why throughout the Bible, if your Bible salvation is often frequently described as a meal, as a feast, or as a banquet. For example, Isaiah 25 says on this mountain, the Lord of armies will prepare for all the people’s. Not just Israel, all the peoples, a feast of choice meat, a feast with aged wine prime cuts of choice, meat, fine vintage wine.

The idea being a celebratory meal with good food, good conversation. Unity Luke 13, Jesus says they will come from east and west from north and south to share the banquet in the kingdom of God or revelation 19 blessed are those invited to the marriage Fe. Of the lamb to Jesus salvation was less about going to the good place when you die and more about proximity to God in a setting as open and yet as intimate as the dining table.

Wow. In Luke 14, Jesus is invited to another dinner party and he tells this to the dinner guest or the dinner host. He says, when you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors. because they might invite you back and you would be repaid on the contrary.

When you host a banquet invite, those who are poor, who are maimed, who are lame or blind, and you will be blessed because they cannot repay you for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. When we open our tables. And we share am meal with our friends, with our enemies, with the poor, with the sick, with the wicked and oppressed, all of whom Jesus would call our neighbors.

We practice a way of doing mission the way that Jesus did in a place where everyone is equally welcome, where relationships can be built and where the gospel is both communicated and demonstrated. So I wanna give a warning. and an invitation on how this good news, the gospel is both communicated and demonstrated over the dinner table.

So first a warning. This is crucial. We are more effective in our mission when we stay true to our distinction, hear me. Sin is still sin, Romans 3 23 for all. If sin and fall short to glory of God, look sin isn’t bad because it’s forbidden. It is forbidden. It is bad. The wages of sin is still death and destruction.

We have that in Roman 6 23, you’re gonna be tempted to go easy on those things. But tho those, the MIS this is the very thing that brings life. You cannot have good news unless you hear about the bad news and here’s the good news. Jesus is the only way to God, John 14, six says he’s the way the truth in the life.

No one comes with the father. Through Jesus. And that’s a beautiful invitation. Why should we complain? Sh why do we want more than one way? The fact is there is a way praise the Lord. Let’s take that way and be with God for maternity. And again, we have to say this over and over, especially in our community, we cannot earn our way back to God.

Yeah. You cannot earn your salvation. Ephesians two eight through nine is very specific. For by grace, you have been saved through faith. This is not of your own doing. It’s a gift of God, not of works less. Any man should boast. And so God is the one who’s given this gift. And the temptation is to budge on the truth in the name of love.

But friends, we lose all power and we actually lose all love when we pick and choose what we wanna share in our Bibles. And so we have to stay true to our distinctions. It’s the very thing that gives life, but here’s the invitation. That’s the warning. Here’s the invitation. We don’t make demonstrations out of people.

We make dinner for people. This is what we do at passion. Greek. The world wants you to make a demonstration out of people. The world loves to bring up the other side of the political aisle and just say, look how bad they are or how dumb they are or whatever. And we mock them friends. I’ve never seen somebody mocked into the way of Jesus.

Never seen them embarrassed into the kingdom of. They’re invited lovingly and it’s often over a dinner table. I can’t get enough of Hebrews 13 two. It says this line. It says don’t neglect to show hospitality for, by doing this. Some have welcomed angels as guests, without knowing it. There is something sacramental.

There is a sacred occurrence. Around the dinner table. The holy spirit has a way of showing up. When we put we, we, when we open up our hearts, by putting out the plates, God loves to work in those moments. Now let me say this. don’t worry. We’re not gonna train you for bait and switch. Okay. We’re not gonna say invite people to dinner five minutes in, give them a.

Give them that gospel track. And if they convert, we’ll give them dessert. Okay. Here, say it with me. Convert dessert. No, that’s not what we’re doing at fashion Creek. I just, I like that. That was good. I might use it. It’s ready also know this. You are not a failure. If you invite people to dinner and they never come to our church, or you’re not a failure.

If you invite them over to dinner and you don’t have a gospel conversation. Few times you are. We ask you to listen to the holy spirit. We wanna work with you. If you feel like he was inviting you to do something, and you said, no, there’s so much grace. We wanna collapse that you invited somebody over for dinner.

This is Arizona. We don’t do that. That’s a huge step forward. And here’s the thing that’s, what’s so hard. When we begin to talk about mission, we get so scared because we’re so worried about the outcome. Let me give you this encouragement outcomes are none of our. But the outcast is God is the one who gives the growth.

God is the one who saves the soul. We’re the one who make the dinner. The outcast is anybody who does not have an abiding relationship with God. They were friends as humans. We were made to dwell and to be with Jesus. And if that person isn’t doing. They are an outcast. And let me be clear. Some of you feel like an outcast tonight, and the reality is that might be true.

The Bible talks about how you and I, we are the outcast that shouldn’t be invited to the feast. How come God has every right to keep us out because you and I have sinned, we have decided to go make our own dinner party and we’ve ran away from our loving. And the reality is there’s nothing you and I can do in our own power to get us back to that.

Feast, our sin made us spiritually sick and dead. We are like dogs who just keep returning to our vomit sin has destroyed us because of sin done by us sin, done to us and sin done around us. But the grace of God appeared though, we were still far from God. Came to us, even while we were his enemies, Christ died for us.

And he took that sin and he took that sickness on his own shoulders. And Jesus came as some column, the, as the doctor of the soul, he came to not only bring you righteousness, but to bring you healing, write this down, friends, Jesus didn’t make a demonstration out of you. He made dinner for you and there’s scripture to back.

Jesus is ultimately gonna invite us to the great marriage supper of the lamb. I was learning this week about dinner and those sorts of things. And I came across this line that mankind’s most ancient boundary marker is the dinner table. This is the most intimate way of saying your family.

You are loved and Jesus here. They expected Jesus to encounter sinners on the. But at the dinner table, that’s a whole nother thing. The dinner table is where strangers become neighbors and neighbors become family. Something sacred happens, and I love how ordinary it is for us, but God does something so extraordinary through it.

But I wanna ask you, have you accepted the invitation to the Fe. Do you know that Jesus has invited you to the banquet, that you can partake with him in all your mess. And all of your taste buds, right? Jesus is inviting you to the feast. And we call that to, to become a believer in Christ to be welcomed into the family of God.

And I know in our culture, we tend to picture the gospel in courtroom language. So typically when you hear the gospel presented, which it’s true Hey, you’re a sinner. And so you are, you’re in debt. And so when you come to. The judge has now said you’re forever clean. And so that’s true. Amen.

You’re forever forgiven when you come to Christ. Jesus. Yes. And amen. But I also think I see it all throughout the text. Not only should we see the gospel in this courtroom language we need, see, we need to see the gospel in this dinner table imagery that you who are once far off is now invited in, not just in acquaintance, but in the family.

At the dinner table in Christ, you are welcomed in Christ. You are loved in Christ. You are listened to, and in Christ you are made. Whole, and our job is once we’ve been invited to the feast is to invite as many people to the feast as possible. And what’s crazy is God has given us this opportunity to extend this invitation over our little dinner tables.

Now, Caleb, how can we practically do that at passion? Creek church. What’s the practice for this week. Okay. What’s the takeaway. I realize, as we’re talking about this is such a foreign concept to a lot of us, that the thought of opening up your home and entertaining guests and getting the house ready and cooking a meal.

All it’s so overwhelming, but Rosa Butterfield has this great book. If you’re interested in this at all, check it out. It’s called the gospel homes with a comes with a house key. It’s a great resource, but here’s what she calls a radically ordinary hospitality. She says our post-Christian neighbors need to see, sorry, need to hear and see, and taste and feel authentic.

Christianity, hospitality spreading from every Christian home. That includes neighbors in prayer, food, friendship, childcare, dog walking, and all of the daily matters upon which friendships are. She says, let God use your home, your apartment, your dorm room, front yard, community gymnasium, or garden for the purpose of making strangers into neighbors and neighbors into family, because that is the points building the church and living like the family of God.

And as we wrap up, I just wanna suggest three ways that you can actually put this into practice that you can practice hospitality in your neighborhoods this week. First. By the way, these are next steps as well. All of us have different relationships with our neighbors. And so don’t feel like you have to do all through three of these.

You’re gonna unpack this in your groups this week. But these are next steps depending on where you are at. And so the very first step is just to meet a neighbor. Some of us just need to know our neighbor’s names. Some. This is not an easy thing. We are really bad at this. My wife and I we’ve lived in this house for about a year now.

And I met our neighbors just a handful of times. I haven’t had an extensive conversation with them at all, but I don’t remember their names. And so for some of you the first step this week, just a way to follow Jesus and obedience is to learn the people who literally live in proximity to you learn their names.

You could do something as simple. Like I tend to my office at my house has three windows facing the front so I can see outside whenever there’s somebody outside, I try and take out the trash. Yeah, hurry I’m like, do we have any. No, give me the trash. Just, even things like that say hi to somebody, try and start a conversation.

I mean that we don’t think about this, but that can be a spiritual practice for you. Yeah. Second thing is to invite a neighbor, maybe you have a relationship with your neighbors, their names, maybe, a little bit of their story. You’ve encountered them regularly or just the people in your life in general.

It doesn’t have to be your actual neighborhood. Although I think you could make a case for that, but think about the places that you regularly frequent your barber. The cashier at the grocery store that you see the people you come across at the gym every day or every other day or whatever, these are your neighbors.

If you know their names, consider them inviting, consider inviting them over for dinner. And as you do that, set the table, don’t set an agenda, right? It’s not a bait and switch tactic. We are not just trying to give them a gospel presentation. We are trying to listen. We’re trying to ask questions about them.

We’re trying to get to know them. We’re trying to engage in meaningful conversation, but at the end of the day, we are just trying to connect with other image bearers. People created by God whom God wants to redeem and reconcile possibly through you. And step three, if you’ve already done, if you’ve met a neighbor, maybe you’ve had somebody over for dinner, or maybe you just, your neighbors really well as to serve.

Or so if you know somebody, the more that you get to meet people and you interact with them. If you have dinner with them a few times, you’ll learn what their their needs are. Their physical, tangible needs and desires are. And so consider finding a way, put yourself out there to meet the tangible need of somebody who lives near you or somebody that you come in contact with.

It could be as simple as walking their dog. Providing a hot meal to the new parents down the block serving, offering childcare to the single mom or the single dad that lives on your streets. Sending a financial gift to somebody you, you just found out, maybe lost their job is looking for work or something.

Find ways to actually bless them, pray that the holy spirit would give you inspiration to do that. And actually be to use this language, the hands and the feet of Jesus, wherever it. Live, I invite you now to stand with me. We’re gonna stand in a posture of prayer. A lot of the times the biblical posture is to stand.

And so what I so desperately want is for our church to be doers of the word, and you can’t read the Bible and not come away, knowing God has called us to make dinner for the sinner. And God has called us to make dinner for each. And so let’s pray that God would empower us to, to be the hands and feet that maybe God would miraculously make us good cooks.

I don’t know what kind of prayer you need, but let’s pray together. Father, I just ask you that this mission starts with the meal. God, that we would partake in that. God, I love it. I love that the gospel. Lord beautiful things happen over the dinner table, cuz I love food God, and I’m so grateful. You’ve wired it that way and God, I can’t help, but praise you and thank you God, that ultimately the reason we’re taking communion is to remember the past it’s to remember Jesus, what you’ve done for us on the cross and the resurrection, but just as much Lord as we partake in communion, we remember the feast in the.

God that we’re gonna celebrate and dine together as the bride of you Christ. And we are going to have the greatest meal of all time in celebration. And as we partake in communion in the next few moments, maybe we remember this is a for taste of the meal to come. God, I pray that you would multiply the work of our church.

Through our intentionality of embracing the awkward conversations of cleaning up the dining room table, setting it out and having people over God, would you do something within us? Just in this moment? Holy spirit, grab our hearts. I ask you God to give us. And Lord, if we don’t know the name on our street, God give us the house

father, as everyone in this room, as the house comes to mind God, we present to you, our anxiety and the idea of even meeting this person, we present to you, our fear that the food will be bad, or if they don’t want to come. But God, we submit to you because our life is so short, but our mission is so big.

And God, I just want us ordinary people to participate in your invitation to do things that matter for eternity. God, would you empower us to be a church? That refuses to make demonstrations out of sinners, but we make dinner for the sinners in Jesus name. I pray. Amen.

Group Guide

Meal & Conversation

Open the night with a quick prayer over your time together. As your Group shares a meal, feel free to use the following question to check in with everyone:

  • What’s something you’re grateful for this week?

 

Overview of Teaching

It is becoming increasingly difficult to share the way of Jesus with our lost neighbors. Political tribalism, spiritual suspicion, and the recent phenomenon of religious deconstruction all form a perfect storm of hostility towards Christians who try to invite others to follow Jesus.

In Jesus’ day, the world was much the same. But rather than combat or retreat from the world, Jesus confronts the world’s hostility with hospitality. The meals that Jesus shared with others were invitations to relationship, opportunities for reconciliation, and a demonstration of the love that God has for all people.

Today our mission and outreach must come from our discipleship to Jesus, and not the other way around. This means that we must learn the practice of hospitality as a way to invite others to witness the love of God. When we share a meal with others, we remind ourselves that God chose to seat us at his table in the Kingdom despite our sin. We also demonstrate to our neighbors that the love of God is on offer to everyone who wants to accept it.

 

Discussion

  1. Read Matthew 22:35-40. Most scholars agree that Jesus is not putting love of God above love of neighbor. Rather, he is equating the two commands to be of the same nature. How does this change your understanding of these commands? Who in your life do you struggle to consider and love as a neighbor?
  2. How many of your actual neighbors do you know? Who do you regularly come across in the places you frequent throughout the week that you could consider a neighbor?
  3. Now read Luke 14:12-14. Why does Jesus have a concern for the poor and the outcast being invited to dinner parties? What does this tell you about the nature of the gospel? Who are the people in your own life who might be considered outcasts, and in what ways might God be inviting you to open your door to them?

Debrief last week’s practice as a Group:

How did you feel about last week’s practice? What next steps do you need to take in order to become more vulnerable with the people in your community?

 

Practice

As we consider ways to practice hospitality, we must also recognize that all of us have different relationships with our neighbors. Some of us are good friends with the people in our lives and neighborhoods, while some of us don’t even know their names. Here are 3 next steps you can take depending on the kind of relationship you have with your neighbors:

1. Meet a Neighbor. Simply find a way to learn your neighbor’s names. Consider simple practices like taking the trash out when you see someone outside to try and start a conversation, spending time in your front yard with your kids, or walking over to the person who just moved in to introduce yourself. If you see the same people at the places you regularly frequent (grocery stores, barbers, at the gym, at work, in your classroom, etc.), consider ways to meet them as well.

 

2. Invite a Neighbor. If you already have a relationship with your neighbors, consider inviting them to dinner. Ideally, invite them over to your home and share a meal with them, either home-cooked or takeout. If that’s not an option, invite them out to dinner at a favorite restaurant. During the meal, focus on ways to demonstrate the love of Jesus with them by asking them questions, listening, sharing meaningful conversations, and just getting to know them. Don’t feel any pressure to bring up the gospel unless you feel the Spirit prompting you. Remember, this isn’t a “bait and switch” tactic. It’s simply a way to connect with other image- bearers.

 

3. Serve a Neighbor. As you get to know your neighbors on a deeper personal level, you’ll start to learn about their specific needs and desires. Consider putting yourself out there by meeting one of these tangible needs. Maybe it’s a financial gift to someone who just lost their job, a hot meal delivered to the new parents on your block, or an offer to provide childcare to the single mom or dad. Consider ways your Group can get involves as well.

 

Discuss the following questions about these practices right now as a Group:

  1. What would success look like to you as you engage in the practice this week?
  2. Spend whatever time you have left brainstorming answers to the following questions together as a Group:
    • What are some ways you can practically bless and serve your neighbors?
    • Does anyone in your Group know someone with a tangible need thatyour Group can help meet?
    • What creative ways can you think of to meet new neighbors?