The holidays are a time where spend a great deal of our waking hours with those we love. A lot of these occasions seem to involve eating and maybe rightly so, as it seems that eating together is often associated with a level of intimacy not found between mere associates. Maybe this is why business executives and Hollywood agents are quick to “do lunch”; it’s a tangible sign of inclusiveness.
Inclusiveness, however, doesn’t happen just around the dining room table of our homes. For those of us who are Christians, our Heavenly Father has promised that not only are we part of our own families, we are part of His (Titus 3:7; Ephesians 1:5). Therefore, we get to eat at His banquet table, and share in fellowship with Him (Luke 14:15). This is a common understanding of grace; those of us who were wrong with God get to be made right with Him. However, as in much of Christianity, that which has become common, has perhaps lost its impact. While all the above is true, what is often forgotten is the degree to which we are anathema to God except for Christ’s sacrifice. Getting the privilege to eat at Christ’s table is comparable to the outrage that would occur if President Bush had Osama Bin Laden over for Thanksgiving, except comparably our crimes against a holy God are far worse. (This is not to say that the earthly consequences of our behavior are the same, but the contrast between our sins and God’s holiness is much more pronounced than the same comparison made between sinners.) The shock of such a meal would resound throughout the CNN-world, because we would recognize that a privilege was being given to a man who not only had not earned it, but had earned the exact opposite response. The President would be granting an act of inclusion to somebody whose behavior calls for him to be ostracized. Osama would be accompanying the same seat that the President’s children had sat in, served from the same dishes, and allowed the same access. The fact that we find this absurd, shows us the scandal of God’s grace. For those of us who were enemies of God are now His children (Col. 1:20-21); He has allowed them unprecedented access (Rom. 5:1-3), and shows them favor they can never earn (Eph. 2:8-9). We have become so used to calling ourselves “children of God”, that we forget the affront our adoptions paper must cause in heaven. The enemies have been made kids.
Many of us will gather this holiday season and get together with friends and families out of obligation. Let us not forget that God has no obligation to lunch with us, and yet through faith and repentance, He gives us the privilege anyway.