Open your table.
Even more, open your circle. Be certain to invite not just the affluent and successful, “but when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed” (Luke 14:13–14 NIV).
The Greek word for hospitality compounds two terms: love and stranger. The word literally means to love a stranger. All of us can welcome a guest we know and love. But can we welcome a stranger? Every morning in America more than 39 million people wake up in poverty. In 2008, 17 million households had difficulty providing food for their families.2 An estimated 1.1 million children lived in households experiencing hunger multiple times throughout the year. And this is in America, the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.
When we provide food stamps, we stave off hunger. But when we invite the hungry to our tables, we address the deeper issues of value and self-worth. Who would have thought? God’s secret weapons in the war on poverty include your kitchen table and mine.
A few months ago I was sitting at the red light of a busy intersection when I noticed a man walking toward my car. He stepped off the curb, bypassed several vehicles, and started waving at me. He carried a cardboard sign under his arm, a jammed pack on his back. His jeans were baggy, his beard was scraggly, and he was calling my name. “Max! Max! Remember me?”
I lowered my window. He smiled a toothless grin. “I still remember that burger you bought me.” Then I remembered. Months, maybe a year earlier at this very intersection, I had taken him to a corner hamburger stand where we enjoyed a meal together. He was California bound on that day. “I’m passing through Texas again,” he told me. The light changed, and cars began to honk. I pulled away, leaving him waving and shouting, “Thanks for the burger, Max.”
I’d long since forgotten that meal. Not him. We never know what one meal will do.
Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make a Difference (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).