Today’s Bible reading
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to summon those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”’
But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them. The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy. So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. — Matthew 22:1-10 (NET)
More thoughts for meditation
“Invite everyone you find.” It was not included, but the last verse of this parable is “many are called but few are chosen,” echoing the Jewish idea of “remnant,” the response from a small number of faithful within the great number who were called.
The point is that we, as the church, are the servants who are to be radically inclusive when it comes to who we consider “worthy” to join us. We shouldn’t count anybody out. When we have this vision, Ross Hastings argues, we encounter the heart of God in lasting ways.
In the Bible God is revealed as a sending God. From that starting point, Ross Hastings, in Missional God, Missional Church, describes our identity as intertwined with God’s identity because of our mysterious union with God through the Spirit of Jesus. In the same way in which God is centrifugal and centripetal, that is, moving away from and toward the center, the church is to be both deep and wide.
In his work, Hastings affirms the so-called deep approach to being the church. But he emphasizes the missional nature of the deep church. A missional church is both deeply connected with each other and God and widely sent to include others. Indeed, we are deepened through our self-sacrificial service in love as we seek relationships with the stranger, the prisoner, and the poor. If it is God’s love that has enabled us to make a home with one another, that same love will make us hospitable to those outside it. Joy springs from being rooted in the community and rooting in others. That is the fullness of Christ; the essence of being “deep” is also being “wide.”
Suggestions for action
If you are asking the question, “How can I get deeper with God by getting closer to others?” consider who you spend the most time with. Now categorize your relationships. Do you spend much of your time with people who are still “connecting” to Jesus and his people? Or are most of your relationships with the “connected?” A suggestion for action to go deeper with God would be to pray: “God, in which relationship would you like me to serve? How should I?”
Hastings will argue, to go deeper with God is to go wider with your community and those still connecting.