This passage is about a party and Jesus as the host. When you give a luncheon or dinner, do you not invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives or your rich neighbors? If you do, they may invite you back and so you'll be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.
This passage should really make us ask: who are we actively inviting to the party? It's not just that we live in neighborhoods and invite only those nearby or those that we know and like. There is a part of the gospel that compels us to say who are the people who are most in need?
This is an opportunity for us to be different from this world, to say who's not going to be able to repay us? Who's not going to be able to invite us back to their party? And how does the gospel compel us to go to those that have been marginalized by the world?
One of the practical ways that's being lived out right now is we're saying who are the most marginalized people in all of the places that we serve and how can we modify and tweak our services to make sure we're inviting them to the party?
The people that would be the most unlikely to start a business. The people that would have the most challenge of being seen as having full worth as individuals created the image of God. How are we making sure that we are actively and intentionally going to them? That's a hard question, but it's exactly what God has called us to ask. Who are the people that can't pay me back? As an investor, it sounds like a dangerous question to ask. But that's how we can see who God would have us serve.
Peter Greer is the President of Hope International where he is an advocate for the Church’s role in missions and alleviating extreme poverty.