Inclusion and (Self-)Exclusion in the Kingdom of God

God’s reign is like a lavish dinner party put on by a most generous host. The host invited not only the wealthy but the poor, not only the healthy but the sick, not only the powerful but the powerless, not only the acceptable and privileged but the outcast and unworthy as well.

As they sat down for dinner some began to complain, saying, “That person should not be here. They can sit in the other room, maybe, and get the leftovers, but they have no place at this table.” The host admonished them, saying, “All whom I invite are welcome at my table, and they may eat whatever I place before them.”

But still the grumbling continued: “That person should not be here. They have no place at this table, eating this sumptuous feast!” Once again the host affirmed: “All whom I invite are welcome at my table, and they may eat whatever I place before them.”

The objectors rose up from the table, gnashing their teeth, and declared: “I will not eat with that person. Either they go or I do.”

To which the host proclaimed: “It shall be as you have said. And yet I say again: All whom I invite are welcome at my table, and they may eat whatever I place before them.”

Eugène Burnand, The Great Banquet
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