It’s oft times difficult to understand the attitudes and behaviors of people who walk a different road than we do. And walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is a very difficult axiom to actually practice. This story helps…
#JesusStories: In Matt. 18 Jesus tells a parable of a king who confronted a man from his realm who owed him 300 million dollars (in todays value). The man fell to his knees and begged for more time to pay the debt. The king felt for the mans situation and rather than placing him in debtors prison, let him go free. Upon leaving the kings court the man found someone who owed him a few thousand dollars and demanded immediate repayment. That debtor fell to his knees and begged for more time, but that request was not accepted and he was thrown into debtors prison. This is the human condition; we all need great mercy and yet we struggle to offer small mercy to others. This is especially true when those around us needing our mercy are too different from us. Back to Jesus parable, I would suggest that any man owing millions is likely an upperclass businessman, while any man owing small amounts is probably a wage earner. They were from different worlds. Before we distance ourselves from this story, a moment of honesty is needed here. How often have you seen someone holding a sign on a corner and whispered to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be easier if you just got a job?” Or when hearing of someone shoplifting, did you feel a slight disgust? It is hard at those moments to understand the conditions that motivate desperate and resourceless people. Even Solomon prayed that he never be so poor that he would be tempted to steal. (Prov. 30:9). We need some divine help if we are going to hold this issue rightly.
The Eastern Church has something to teach us on this front; one of their oldest congregational prayers is the Kyrie Eleison which means “Lord have Mercy.” Something quite profound occurs when we learn to lean into the deep mercy of Christ on a consistent basis. Though some Reformation-Era theologies have obscured this truth, it can be recovered through practicing the ‘Merciful Christ’ prayer. As Jesus parable suggests, his mercy for us is 300M immeasurable; the more we live in the assumption of immense mercy, the more we become practiced in offering it to others. My father-in-law used to practice mercy with this saying, “be kind to people; everyone is fighting a battle.” In Christ’s immeasurable mercy we find our strength, and with that same mercy we strengthen others.
#DinnerChurchQuotes: “The first command of God in the garden is ‘eat freely’; the last command in Revelation is ‘drink freely’; everything in between is a table where we eat with God and each other.” -Leonard Sweet
Blessings & Boldness,
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.