November 21, 2022
Your Thanksgiving Love Challenge
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16 NLT).
Friend to Friend
A month after my dad died, my mom and I showed up to serve at our local shelter for unhoused individuals. We figured that serving others would help us navigate our grief, but I was uncomfortable because I worried about how I’d keep up conversations with the guests.
When we arrived, I gazed longingly over at the volunteers who stood behind the plexiglass and chafing dishes in their paper hats and plastic gloves. No awkward conversations or uncomfortable emotions, they scooped the food and sent the people on their way. As I settled at our assigned table, I knew that my fear blocked me from seeing the God-potential of meeting new people and getting to know them.
Then, I remembered the pastor’s prayer after we checked in. He prayed that we would love and serve the guests with the heart and love of Jesus. Remembering that helped shift my attitude from self-consciousness to serving others like Jesus. I was still nervous, but I knew that since Jesus could do this, I could, too.
Jesus went in search of the people that Christians tend to avoid or are afraid to talk to. Luke 5 records how Jesus went to the home of Levi (also known as Matthew) the tax collector. Jesus was the guest of honor and He was surrounded by people that the religious leaders would have rejected from their homes.
Consider that banquet from Jesus’ perspective. Jesus knew every single detail of every person around Him and He didn’t shy away. Imagine if you were the guest of honor at a raucous party at a reputably questionable person’s home. Chances are, you’d never tell anyone from your church that you’d been invited there, even though the party was for you. Yet, Jesus was unapologetically right there. He didn’t hide in the corner or worry about what the religious people thought. He showed up because Levi and his friends mattered to God, therefore, they mattered to Him.
Today’s Truth reminds us that everyone matters to God, so let’s love like He loves – even those who make us uncomfortable.
Here’s a Thanksgiving Dinner Challenge: Invite someone who wouldn’t think that they’d be welcome in your home. Do you know someone whose skin color is different than yours or someone who may use words that you wouldn’t use? Invite them!
Do you know someone who has been rejected by their family because of choices they’ve made? Invite them!
What about the grumpy person at your job who is skeptical of your faith, but you know that he or she lives alone? Invite them!
The question for all of us, including me, is this: Can we add one more seat at our table and invite someone for Thanksgiving so that we can love them like Jesus?
At the shelter, the more I learned about our guests at the table, the less afraid I became. While I couldn’t fix their problems, I could let my faith shine through my smile, my actions and by praying for them.
Imagine the post-party stories that the crowd told about Jesus. “Our religious leaders rejected us, but Jesus didn’t!” Isn’t that what we want to be said of us? We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Are we willing to get uncomfortable to love like Jesus in hopes of introducing people to the gospel?
Whom do you think that God wants you to invite? Even now, slide that extra seat up to your table. You can invite your family to pray over whom should sit in that seat. Wouldn’t it be amazing to start praying now and then see that chair filled with someone that you will love like Jesus on one of our most popular holidays?
God, everyone matters to You! Thank you for sending Jesus to die for all of us, no matter our backgrounds or life choices. I pray for a willing heart to put an extra chair at the table for Thanksgiving. Help me know who to invite and give me the courage to extend the invitation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Does your family see the same people at Thanksgiving or are visitors regularly welcomed?
Imagine if you added one more chair to your Thanksgiving table this year. Who could you invite that you wouldn’t normally think to invite? Why?
More from the Girlfriends
Whether you’re struggling with your identity in Christ or you’re searching for spiritual breakthrough and freedom, check out Barb’s newest Bible study, Breakthrough: Finding Freedom in Christ. This six-week Bible study on the book of Galatians teaches you how to find freedom from following religious rules and fear of not being enough for God. You can find freedom and experience God’s great adventure of joy and purpose for your life!
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