We invited them over for dinner.
As many of you who read this know we often have students over to our house for dinner. They sit at our table with our kids. They share our food. They become part of our evening routine, often including family worship.
Now, it must be said, that family worship (which we call “family church”) at our house is anything but predictable. We have three young and wiggly children with small bladders that seemingly always fill up just as the bible hits the cleared dinner table. So they are up and down, in the bathroom and out of the bathroom. They sometimes are literally falling asleep at the table. Yet we manage to get through a song and a short reading of scripture and prayer. At least that is the way it normally goes. But, there are those rare occasions when in the midst of the commotion a little voice asks a very profound question or all their eyes are open, rapt with attention on the words of the Scripture.
Well on this particular night the song and scripture went on relatively smoothly and I closed in prayer, as is normal, and I happened to quote a particular passage of 1 Corinthians as I prayed.
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God…
I may have paraphrased a bit, but the idea was expressed in my prayer clearly – God’s ways are not our ways. Upon the “Amen” one of the students looked at me and thanked me for the words of my prayer. She was obviously impressed, moved even, by the words of Scripture which she assumed were my own. I then had the opportunity to open the Bible and show her these words, these very words that seemed to so capture her thoughts, were written down long before I had spoken them. In a flash she was confronted with the living reality of God’s Word, not dead and out of touch with her world but timeless and alive; active and discerning. You could almost see the lights going on in her mind.
I think this story illustrates three things; well, actually, four.
First: The word is powerful. It is sharp and it pierces deep. Like a really good knife that sinks into your skin without you even noticing at first.
Second (and as a natural by-product of the first point): It is important to pray Scripture because it alone is able to timelessly capture the thoughts of a restless sinful world in relationship to God. It communicates, when translated, across all cultures and in all times.
Third: Family worship, although often difficult and seemingly fruitless, is a worthy effort. Do not be weary in your well doing, the harvest is coming and God may be pleased to grant you a foretaste of it now.
And fourth: The importance and usefulness of hospitality is here evident. It was in the context of our home that this particular student encountered God’s Word in a living way. In a recent article of New Horizons (the OPC’s periodical) Laura Jane Kilgore notes, “We live in a disconnected world, students need connection… and an open door can mean the world…” I do not think that such an open door need be limited to college students, but to whomsoever will come and sit and eat with us. As the writer to the Hebrews reminds us,
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
I don’t think that the student was an angel, but I do know that there was something of a divine message delivered in my house that night and it was not one that I had in anyway planned. It all just sort of happened while we simply lived our lives before him. So we plan to continue to do as the school year begins, our students depart and SCAD students arrive. We will open our house, share our lives and confess the truth in love trusting that God will use such means to awaken minds and soften hearts to bring them into the fold and regular life of the church.