Luke 14:12-14 (CEV)
12 Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him:
When you give a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. 13 When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 They cannot pay you back. But God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death.
Rising From Death
Have you ever been with someone as they die?
You can see their life draining out of them. Sense their soul disappearing. Feel their body become cold.
In the best situations, where the person has lived a long, healthy, productive life, it’s a challenging place to be. The rest of the time, it’s heartbreaking or even devastating.
But sometimes, it’s not actually the end.
A story is told in my family of when I was just six weeks old and became very sick. I was bleeding internally, had a very high fever, and the doctor’s had no idea what was causing it. According to the story, my parents were told that if the bleeding didn’t stop, and if the fever didn’t abate, then it was only a matter of time before I died.
So they went out and prayed.
And when they came back three hours later, the fever was gone and the bleeding had stopped.
They never did find out what the cause of it was, but it was as if I had come back from the world of death to the world of life.
It might be an understatement to say that my parents were pretty pleased about that.
So I do think that this kind of death-back-to-life transformation does still happen.
But I also think there is another, more frequent type of transformation that occurs.
It occurs when we invite people back into community.
It occurs when we tell people they are valuable – especially in the context of their deepest places of shame.
It occurs when we show up and show up and show up again for a person who has only ever experienced loneliness or traumatic, unreliable relationships.
When people who have felt crippled by the fear of having to hide their unspoken identity are given the compassion to envision a new future as their true self, then transformation occurs.
When people who have become lame trying with all they’ve got to be the person they think the world wants them to be actually experience wholehearted acceptance as the person they are, then transformation occurs.
When people who have become blind to their own potential because they have been locked in a story of worthlessness (often perpetuated by systematic injustices) come to experience a new story of hope and possibility and justice, then transformation occurs.
You don’t have to be a miracle worker.
You don’t have to have all of the answers.
You don’t have to be an elder or a pastor or an “important” person to participate in seeing someone rise from death.
According to Luke, it might simply start by inviting them for dinner.
- Have you ever seen someone move from death to life?
- What happened to allow that change to take place?
- Have you ever experienced transformation in your own life?
- In what context did that take place?
- Are there people in your life who are struggling today? Who need this kind of transformation?
- Who will you invite out for coffee this morning, or to Tim’s for lunch or to your house for dinner tonight?