“How can I be faithful in this season of life?” I suppose we ask it in every season of life; my wife and I ask it now. Volleyball . . . homework . . . potty training . . . playing catch . . . reading a book . . . running . . . so much to do. Yes - if the Lord gives years, I know I will wish for these times again. Even still - how to be faithful?
How to be faithful, in moving toward my neighbors? Like you, I have a fascinating assortment: a lesbian “married” couple; the single, older man whose wife left him in a painful way, taking the kids with her; the “frat” house of single men; the middle-eastern couple; the good Mormon couple; the recent widower; the young, African-American academic - an interesting assortment. I know them, they know me. Yet only one of them has sat at my dinner table. Why?
First, why am I asking? In the coming years, I think hospitality will increasingly be crucial for evangelism, even more than it is today. Friendship is the lone, remaining way we can “access” our neighbors. We cannot often talk initially about God; He is instantly thought of pluralistically - you have your God and I have mine. We cannot talk about our existential nature - to call someone else a sinner is offensive. What is left to us is the context of friendship - meeting people in the context of their life situation, perhaps their sufferings. By becoming friends, and relating to them in their sufferings, we can, perhaps, help them see their sufferings within the logic and storyline of the Bible. By beginning with life’s situations, we can, perhaps, help make belief in Jesus, for the forgiveness of my sins and the satisfaction of my soul, plausible.
So why so few at our dinner table? Yes, we’re busy. But we’re also sometimes unclear: how do I help my younger ones make sense of some of these situations? And this leads to inertia. The way forward, for us, right now, is to start small. Invite someone over for dessert and coffee (or just dessert!). God doesn’t need vast amounts of my time; he wants me to live by faith. Do I trust that he can use what little I think I can give?
How “little” Jesus seems to give sometimes, as he simply eats with his own interesting assortment of tax collectors, prostitutes, and thieves. He possessed a “contagious impurity” - a willingness to eat with the neighborhood sinners, that drew people to himself - people like me, one of the assortment!