Here’s God’s Vision. What’s Yours?

table setting
Photo credit: <a href="">Tracy Hunter</a>

Isaiah 25:6-9

On the mountaintop, God will prepare a huge feast, with the finest wines and the best delicacies – the best of everything. And everyone is invited.

On the mountaintop, God will lift the pall that is over us all. God will forever banish death. God will wipe all the tears away. God will remove everyone’s shame.

Then people will say:

Look! This is our God. We relied on God, and God rescued us.
This is the God we were waiting for.
Let’s celebrate and enjoy our release!

All because God will be with us on the mountain.

People have parties all the time. You can read about them on the society page. You can get the “exclusive coverage” from the nightly entertainment magazines on the TV. How many millions did Kim Kardashian make on her wedding feast from the exclusive coverage alone?

If this were just another VIP occasion this feast of God would be completely unremarkable. Even in Isaiah’s time. Everyone knew the kings and merchants – the 1% of their day – had these kinds of parties all the time.

But the difference with this party is that everyone is included.

Everyone. No exceptions. That’s the goal. That’s the vision. Everyone gets to sample the $250-a-bottle Cabernet. Everyone gets a place at the table where the fillet mignon is being carved. At God’s table, nobody goes hungry, and nobody goes home at the end of the night in tears.

It’s not just a nice sign on the front of a church lawn.

That’s God’s vision, as Isaiah tells it. What’s yours?

All Are Welcome (Appearances to the Contrary)

mass of diverse people
Photo credit: <a href="">Fady Habib</a>

Romans 16:25-27

Give God credit for whatever strength you gain from hearing my story about Jesus, which solves the mystery that for ages was an enigma, but is now revealed. Through the writings of the truth-tellers it’s now available to everyone of every ethnicity, as God commands, so everyone can follow in faith. Eternal credit goes to God alone, who is wise, by Jesus! Amen.

It’s no surprise that Paul’s closing lines make it clear that he wants God to get the credit for any good that may come out of his having written it. It’s no surprise, either, that he sees Jesus as the answer to every question. But what’s remarkable is the broad inclusivity of the Jesus story. It’s now available to everyone of every ethnicity.

This is a radical thing to say of a religion, because it means that no one person or group has a corner on the Christian story and what it means. Of course, the church didn’t continue in this radically inclusive way. Only a generation later, two at the most, the ranks of Christianity’s priestly class had developed to be the keepers and mediators of the story. And by the time of Constantine and the creeds, the whole thing went from being a radically democratic movement to being another cog in the machine of the Roman Imperial status quo.

But here it is, in defiance of every ancient and modern attempt to claim the Jesus story as the exclusive intellectual property of a few to use for the maintenance of their own wealth and power or to baptize their own political campaigns.

Let it be said clearly: the story of Jesus is for the benefit of everyone of every ethnicity, so everyone can follow in faith.