Inviting Christ into your home is costly. It will cost your wallet. And it will cost your strength. When Christ walks into your home, be prepared to cook a big meal. And be prepared to clean many dishes and pick up lots of dirt.
When you welcome Christ into your home, he doesn’t come alone. He brings with him selfish people like Judas Iscariot, irrational folks like Simon Peter and vengeful individuals like the sons of Zebedee. Do you still want Christ in your house?
When Christ comes for dinner he will disrupt your peace. Disagreeable people will walk into your serene Christian home uninvited. Christ’s presence attracts the unattractive. He is a strong magnet for the unwelcome and a pheromone for the unwanted.
When you invite my family for dinner, I am not going to ask you for your definition of family. I’ll bring anyone I consider my family. That is my wife, my kids, a distant aunt, a third cousin and two friends from Zimbabwe.
Because if you invite my family and tell me not to bring some people who are living in my home then it simply means I’m not welcome in your home. My family is anyone who’s welcome in my home.
However, with the current westernization ongoing in most homes across Africa, the concept of family is being revised. Wedding invitations now have an after note: strictly no children. People are actively eliminating in their fellowship anyone they think doesn’t fit their billing.
Hence, when people invite Christ into their homes, they give him a list of people who are not welcome. Anyone who reduces their social status is not welcome. And anyone who’s different, racially, ethnically or economically is not welcome.
Are sinners and social outcasts welcome in your home?
Jesus was a renowned preacher – radical but renowned throughout Judea. So, a prominent Pharisee, Simon the Leper, invited him into his home. Other prominent leaders of the community were going to be present. It was going to be a peaceful night of serious theological debate.
But there was one problem. Simon the Leper invited Jesus Christ. Thus, Bartholomew tagged along. Matthew joined in. And half a dozen rowdy fishermen came along. Probably theological debates quickly became a loud conversations on fish and typhoons.
About 20 years ago, I met Muammar Gaddafi. He was traveling from Zambia and he passed through my hometown, Karoi. As the president of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi traveled with the best men and women of Libya. High ranking officials from his government accompanied him.
The world view an entourage as a mark of preeminence. Very important people walk around with a bigger, powerful and respected entourage. But not Christ (Colossians 1:15-19). Christ’s entourage was the who’s-who of social outcasts; fishermen, tax collectors, sinners and people who were suffering from all kinds of diseases.
While Christ sat in the Pharisee’s home, a renowned prostitute walked in. She fell at Christ’s feet. And she began to weep. The Pharisee was repulsed. He didn’t invite her into his home because she was a sinner. His house was not a den of thieves and prostitutes.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
– Luke 7:39
Do you think you’re better than Simon the Leper?
At first glance, it may seem the Pharisee was concerned about Christ’s ceremonial cleanliness. But in reality, he could have been worried about what people thought if they saw a prostitute in his house. In fact, he even questioned Christ’s divine power when he saw Christ allowing the prostitute to touch him.
The Gospels according to Matthew and Mark capture the irony perfectly. The Pharisee who invited Christ was Simon the Leper. As a leper or ex-leper, we expect Simon understood the pain of being rejected as unclean. But he didn’t, he was more pharisaical than he was a leper. He identified with his social status more than his suffering.
I once read a play called My Uncle Grey Bonzo by Ben Sibenke. Grey Bonzo grew up in poverty. His mom struggled to send him to school. After working hard, Grey Bonzo got a college degree and became rich. But in his riches, he didn’t want to be associated with his mother because she was poor.
Simon the Leper reminds me of Grey Bonzo. He experienced being disenfranchised yet he didn’t want to be associated with the disenfranchised. Above all, he reminds me of me on all levels.
I grew up as an orphan. My brothers and I used to scavenge dustbins for valuables. I now hold a PhD in natural sciences. But I am worried; can a homeless person call me his best friend? Are orphans comfortable hanging out with me when they’re dustbin hopping?
But that’s not all. I came to Christ in January 2002. Of course, I was the worst sinner I ever known. God graciously adopted me into his family. Yet, it’s easy for me to think I’m better than homosexuals, paedophiles, murderers and robbers. I’m just like Simon the Leper.
Christ is looking for a home where people sit at his feet
How Simon the Leper reacted is a typical example of human nature. When disadvantaged people get power they want to prove to the advantaged that they are not like the other disadvantaged. They use oppression of the disadvantaged as a membership card to their desired elite group.
Probably, Simon the Leper wanted to show he earned his ceremonial cleanliness through personal merit rather than grace. And he rejected God’s grace in favor of works.
But there’s another form of rejecting grace we should be wary of. The Martha type of righteousness by works. Martha was the right opposite of Simon the Leper. Although they both lived in Bethany.
When Christ entered Martha’s home, Martha made sure they got a traditional Hebrew welcome unlike Simon the Leper who failed to wash Christ’s feet. But Christ’s group was too big. Martha had to feed the uninvited prostitutes, tax collectors and fishermen. And she did all that until she couldn’t anymore.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Your desire to serve Christ through feeding the homeless, clothing the orphaned and befriending the abandoned is noble. But if you’re not careful, it can alienate you from Christ. There’s a better way though.
The woman in Simon the Leper’s house found that way. Mary understood that way. What is the unique thing they did both of them? They sat at Christ’s feet. And Christ declared no one will ever take that away from them. So, when you invite Christ into your home, you better sit down at his feet.