You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over. (Luke 11:39-41)
Relate: Use your silverware. That is one of the first rules of table etiquette a child will learn. It is both cleaner and more efficient to use your spoon when eating mashed potatoes. Granted, it might not be as fun but even still, use your silverware. After that, keep your elbows off the table. Sit up straight. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Ask before being excused. Don’t start eating until everybody has been served. Along with that, wash your hands before you begin eating, after you are done, and any time you might be exiting from the bathroom. These are mid level manners for dining situations.
Jesus obviously was not a fan of miss manners. He is a guest at a dinner party and He just sits right down to the meal rather than washing his hands first. When the host and other company visibly show their shock at His lack of manners Jesus turns to them. I would like to think He was speaking with His mouth full when He called the Pharisees a bunch of fools but Luke didn’t record that detail so we cannot know for sure. Seriously though, I have never been a guest at someone else’s house and turned around and called them fools moments after walking through the front door. I might have thought it once or twice but I certainly haven’t said it. Most would say that is going beyond poor etiquette and headlong into rudeness, but Jesus is to be my example so… I’ve got to try it out sometime if I want to be more like Jesus.
React: Jesus visibly identifies with the poor in order to teach a lesson to the religious. Their neglect of the poor was nothing short of sin. Jesus broke etiquette because they would not break through socioeconomic walls. Are we guilty of the same sin today? When was the last time I have shared dinner with a homeless man or a widow with her three kids all on welfare? Is God calling me a fool when I get uptight about the mother feeding her slobbering toddler cheerios in clear violation of the “no food in the sanctuary” sigh I know she saw? Four of the youth kids were smoking on the side of the church, am I calling for the youth pastor’s resignation? He clearly has no control. That guy on the bus clearly hasn’t had a bath in months. I will very visibly hold my breath until he exits so that he can learn a lesson. There is that one guy panhandling every single day two blocks from my office. What is his name? What is his story? When was the last time I invited him to join me on my lunch break? Never? Do I really dare call myself a Christian? Am I so concerned with not breaking etiquette that I have walled myself off from the very ones Jesus is passionately pursuing?
I am sorry for the walls I have built and the ways I have insulated myself from those You love. I am sorry for the concept of right and proper I have allowed to separate me from those who don’t fit into my social and cultural mores. I am sorry that I have avoided those I am uncomfortable around and then had the audacity to call my sin holiness. Please forgive me. Please give me a love for the lost that will violently and rudely break past the “etiquette” we have established in our churches and I in my life. Let me passionately and improperly do anything and everything short of sin to pursue the “one”.