You've probably heard of Jesus.
My blog isn't that popular. My mom reads it. Some of my family read it. A few from my church read it. I'm one of the few listed on the Friendly Atheist's "Religious" blogroll. But for some reason, it's popularity doesn't go beyond about 20-40 views a day. My guess is because I often blog about personal, family, or hockey related stuff....enough that the strict theology-and-spirituality-only blog readers thumb their noses up at my lack of consistency.
I'm okay with that.
In this case, it allows me to know my audience. You are those who "know" what's going on in church. The "insiders". The disturbing thing to realize then, is that myself and most of you reading this....according to most of the parables told by Jesus Christ....would be the outsiders.
Who are the insiders, in the parables of Jesus? The prostitutes. The thieves. The tax collectors. The poor. The crippled. The prisoner. The addicts. Those with little or nothing to offer a community of people, and quite possibly might pose a risk for a community to welcome. These are the ones Jesus speaks of inviting to the parties. These are the ones it seems, like a Junior higher who wants to associate himself with the right crowd (only so much more than that), Jesus leans towards. These are those Jesus seeks to spend time with. These are the folks the healing power of Jesus Christ goes out to.
But on the same token, we know that if our church's are to see a renewal of life, and be guided in the direction of Jesus Christ, we need to have people at the "helm" who have a heart very close to God's heart, right? Like Bishop Kendall posted on his blog recently, we desire to find and develop those who are seeking hard after Christ...and develop/disciple them into leadership.
So how do we balance that out with the knowledge of who Christ newly labels as the "insiders"? Beyond just recognizing we're called to love them, but we're called to give them a place of prominence within our "parties". Surely Jesus wouldn't want us to let a thief come in and run some sort of ministry among people who assume our goal is to keep them safe from hell and anyone who might be "heading there"?
I suppose an easy answer might be that Jesus never calls this crowd any sort of leadership, or "host of the party type" name. They're often called "Guests". Which might be hard enough for many of us to relate to them as. Whether the pot heads in youth ministry, or the various groups that translates into as adults, etc. - we often naturally lean away from, sit away from, and altogether hope someone else pours love into them.
But if there's one thing I've learned about being a host from my wife (the natural host), guests are taken care of. Welcomed, and made to feel welcome. A host goes out of their comfort zone, and overextends themselves, making sacrifices to welcome a guest. May we be welcoming/inviting hosts to this party of the Kingdom of God...and may we realize who the "guests of honor" truly are. (not us)