Open the Door

In the parable of the big dinner from which this year’s verse, “there is still room,” is taken from (Luke 14:22), the host sends his servant out with an invitation a total of three times. The first invitees believe that their personal business is too important to put on hold for his dinner, and they refuse to come. Their lame excuses are taken personally, angering the host. The second group, those who were despised and outcast, respond and enter in. Finally, upon hearing that “there is still room,” the host sends the servant even further, acting on his desire to fill up his house. By the end of the parable, there doesn’t seem to be anyone within walking distance of the host’s home that he hasn’t invited. He has flung open the door—the door of “welcome.” 

Pause and reflect for a moment. Can you recall a time in your life when you felt wholeheartedly welcomed? When someone stopped what they were doing the moment you arrived and moved toward you to greet you, to talk with you, to spend time with you? How did it feel when you were invited into a place or into a conversation?

It’s close to unfathomable, but the Lord has the capacity to give personal attention to every person who has ever lived. Our God has thrown open the door of welcome and has extended an invitation to a relationship based on the finished work of Jesus Christ. There is no one that He hasn’t invited; God has the capacity to include everyone who responds. God is not limited to a physical space in a house; He earnestly desires fellowship with every person He has created.

We see God’s heart when the perspective reverses and the Lord is on the outside of the door asking to come in: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). God is both knocking and using His voice to get our attention. This demonstrates His eagerness to enter and fellowship with anyone and everyone who will open the door.

We manifest God’s heart when we are welcoming like Him. We display a piece of His character when we open the door for others, connect, and build relationships for Kingdom impact.

But what if you, like me, have blown it? What if you’ve lived somewhere a long time and haven’t been very welcoming? What if you’ve been too busy doing things at church to open your door to unbelieving neighbors? What if you’ve even become enemies with some of the people around you? Do not despair. Instead, repent!

I’m not sure where it originated, but I’ve adopted the phrase “it’s not what you do, it’s what you do next.” Be honest with people, admit to falling short, and demonstrate the sincerity of your desire to do better by issuing one invitation this month. There is still time, and there is still room. Open the door!

There is Still Room

For many of us, summer is a wonderful time for slowing down, savoring the longer days, and enjoying a relaxed ministry schedule. For others, summer is a busy season of navigating multiple opportunities for family, creative, and recreational activities. If you happen to have some extra time for reflection right now, I encourage you to make space to think about hospitality and generosity and to let that sit in your soul for as long as necessary.

The verse chosen for our second year of Belong is this: “There is still room” (Luke 14:22). This simple statement infers a desire to fill an empty space.

In response to this declaration, I find myself asking a variety of questions: Do I have room in my schedule and in my heart? Do I have a desire to extend hospitality and generosity toward others? If not, why not? Am I overscheduled? Is there something I need to stop doing in order to create space for obedience to God’s next prompting? Have I adopted a “poverty mentality” that causes me to believe I must guard and hoard precious resources such as time and agency?

Perhaps these next few weeks will provide opportunity for you to consider these same questions.

Scripture is full of imagery of abundance. The story begins with a generous and creative God filling a space that was “empty and void” with a delightful variety of plants, animals, and sources of light and life. I read commands such as, “Enlarge the place of your tent . . . do not hold back” (Isa. 54:2) and “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (Ps. 81:10). I read promises such as, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10) and “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

Do I believe it? Do I trust my generous and good Father to provide all that I need, even to an overflow for others? Will I believe that God is willing to do what He did for the widow of Zarephath in Elijah’s day when “the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry” even during famine (1 Kings 17:16)? Will I, like Jesus, receive and respond to the commission to go to other towns, to unfamiliar places, to people who have not yet seen or heard the good news of the Kingdom (see Luke 4:43–44)?

These reflections are worthy of my time and my response. For this season, I will allow my Good Shepherd to lead me to green pastures and quiet waters to refresh my soul. Then, when it is time for me to get up and be guided along the right paths for His name’s sake (see Ps. 23:2–3), I will be one who is welcoming in my demeanor and generous in my spirit.

There is still room—for His glory and the good of others. Amen.