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  • Writer's pictureBen Conrad

The Potluck Kingdom

Written by: Dave Marcello

About 5 years ago, I watched an old movie, one of my favorites. I had read the book as a teenager, and it had a great impact on me. The movie was, “The Robe”. It is the story of the Roman gladiator, Marcellus Gallio, who gambled for and won the robe worn to the cross by Jesus. Watching Jesus die had a great impact on Marcellus and during the remainder of the story, Marcellus becomes a Christian and eventually dies a martyr’s death for the cause of Christ.

One particular scene in the movie struck me as especially profound. One of the Christian leaders is calling the people of his village to task because they were taking advantage of Marcellus in a financial transaction. They believed that it was right to cheat a Roman soldier. But the leader told them that Jesus had taught them to be hospitable to strangers and made them refund money to Marcellus.

This scene made me think about what it means to be a Christian. It is more than proclaiming that Christ is the Lord of our lives, it is living by His teachings and allowing Him to actually be the Lord of our lives.

I realized that I was not a very hospitable person. I decided to change that and I came up with a plan to be more hospitable, to actually live out the teachings of Jesus. I decided that I would open my home for a potluck dinner twice a month, inviting whoever would come. This was outside of my comfort zone. I wasn’t sure what would happen.

For the first dinner, I went up and down my street, inviting my neighbors. For my comfort, I invited a few old friends and asked my grown children to come. That first evening, all we did was share a meal and spend some time introducing ourselves to each other. At the end of the evening I asked if the guests had enjoyed themselves and would they like to do it again in two weeks. To my surprise there was a lot of positive feedback and we agreed to come again in two weeks.

At first I worried about whether the evenings were going to be a “success”. But as time has passed, my definition of “success” has evolved. Now, my only concern is that people feel comfortable and free to express themselves.

We always have some kind of activity aside from the eating. Sometimes we play games (charades, telephone, board games, so forth). Sometimes we have a topic for discussion. Sometimes we interview one of our group so we can learn more about each other. Sometimes we watch videos. Sometimes we just talk. Sometimes we share a communion.

In the “Good Samaritan” parable, Jesus teaches about hospitality between a believer and a non-believer (the Samaritan). One of the wonderful aspects of Tuesday meals is that our hospitality extends to non-believers. We have shared many meals with Muslims, with folks who tell us that they are confirmed atheists, with folks who say, “I am not sure what I believe.” We do not try to preach the Gospel with words to these folks, we preach it by loving them and showing radical hospitality.

I want to close with one of my favorite stories from a Tuesday evening. It was a game night and we were playing “Two Truths and a Lie”. Each person had to say three things about themselves, two of which were true and one of which was false. Then the group guesses which one is false. One of our group, an older woman who had lost her husband about three years earlier, took her turn and one of the statements related to her husband. After the group had guessed, she began to tell the story about her husband. As she spoke, she became emotional and began to weep. We were comforting to her, and also allowed her emotions to come out. Afterwards, she thanked us and told us that it was the first time she was able to cry since her husband died. God is good, all the time.

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