In our final session of “Just Walk Across The Room”, we learned about an age-old concept of gathering together in homes for fellowship. Although the home gathering has been around since the beginning of time and may not sound like something new, in today’s society, the thought of inviting non-believers into your home for “fellowship” is seemingly foreign to the modern Christian.
From the time a person makes the decision to follow Christ, it seems as though they are continually separated from the world around them. You might be saying… isn’t this a good thing?
The bible tells us that we are a new creation when we are cleansed by our faith in Jesus. And as it says in 2 Corinthians 6, we are to separate ourselves from the unrighteousness of the world, by not joining (partnering or yoking) ourselves with it any longer. We know that we are to live holy lives, separated unto God in our heart, as well as our deeds. The bibles also says that we need to be wise in who we surround ourselves with & receive counsel from, as we read in Psalms 1.
Having said that, we know that as a Christ follower (and because we are changed into a new creation), we are to live with the heart of our savior & have His desires as our highest priority! And even though we are told to separate ourselves from the “things” of this world, we have also been commissioned by Jesus Himself, to go into all the world (into our world) and share the good news of the gospel. This wasn’t just a “passive suggestion”, but an active commission for us.
I like to think about the holidays at our house… it’s wonderful to have a house full of family, gathered around the table enjoying time together! Jesus gave us this same picture in Luke 14:23, where He said, go out into the streets and persuade them to come in, because I want a full house. God wants a big family… all enjoying life together!
We know by overwhelming evidence throughout the scriptures, that God’s heart is for people everywhere to turn towards Him and receive the gift of salvation. It was His plan from the very beginning of time, and He prepared to bridge the gap between us & Him way before we ever knew there was a gap!
While Jesus was here on earth, He said… I only do what I see my father do. And we can see by His example, that He spent His time reaching out in love to a lost & dying world even up until the very end… when He gave the ultimate gift of love – His own death in our place.
Our lesson stemmed from the account in Luke 5:27-32, when Matthew, a tax collector, decided to follow Jesus. And upon making this exciting decision, the first thing he did, was to throw a big feast (or party) & invite all of his other friends who were also tax collectors over to his house.
Of course… this made the religious folks of the day very angry, and they accused Jesus of eating with, drinking with, and being a friend of sinners.
To these accusations, Jesus replied… “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders – an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” (Luke 5:31 message)
This was uncomfortable for the religious people, because:
- Matthew was not a speaker sharing from their platform
- He wasn’t one of their chosen select few
- Matthew was considered the “filth” of society
- The meeting was not held in the synagogue
- It was not labeled a study of scripture (or Bible study)
It was simply… dinner at Matthew’s place, and Jesus was a guest.
Although Jesus didn’t share in the life style or sinful habits of these tax collectors, He was able to look past their outer appearance, and with the love of the Father, see people who needed a savior. We know this by His reply in Luke 5:31 (above).
What is a Matthew Party?
A get together (or party) with the purpose of getting to know those around you, and in love, introducing them to Jesus. The invitation list should consist of both people that are still far from God, as well as a few Christ followers.
As Christians we need to remember, that we can do many good things for God, but if we do not truly love others, it is all for nothing!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
We need to remember, that those who are far from God, do not act like Christ followers… because they are not! God’s love is what draws people into His family, and as the family of God, we are to show His love to others, so that by faith, they will be drawn into His family as well.
Here are a few ideas you might consider for a Matthew party at your house
- A picnic
- A pizza party
- Pool party
- Game night (outdoor or indoor)
A few points to consider
- Be sure that those who are already Christ followers are outnumbered, so that those who are far from Christ don’t feel like they are being ganged up on.
- Try to decide which Christ followers would be best for those on your invitation list. You might think about age, stage in life, interests, temperament, etc. You want this to be a wonderful experience for all.
- You should never find yourself “enjoying” the ways of the world – or participating in them.
Remember the goal is to always – in love – point to Jesus!