Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. – Revelation 3:20 (NRSV)
Jesus was always standing at people’s doors, ready to eat. Whenever he got invited to a meal, he went. He didn’t care who the host was or who else was on the guest list.
But some people disapproved. “He’s eating with tax collectors and sinners!”
His critics weren’t the first or last to discourage indiscriminate dining. Not the first or last to demand obedience to the age-old law of non-engagement. If you want to keep your own kind safe, pure, and clear about their place in the world, be careful who you eat with.
Because you might catch their cooties. They might learn your name. They might tell you stories. You might like their stories. You might start wondering what all the fuss is about. And what begins as “Please pass the ketchup” becomes “May I have one of your fries?” and before you know it, everybody’s having sex and babies. There’s a reason some of the nastiest violence of the civil rights era was unleashed on people integrating lunch counters.
When Christ says, “I’ll come in and eat with you,” it sounds like a tender pledge. But it’s more threat than promise. A threat of barrier-breaking intimacy. A threat to share fries and marry outside the family. A threat to blow up every kind of caste and distinction.
If you eat with him, you might come down with something. Who knows where it will end?
I hear you knocking, dear dangerous Christ. Come in. Break bread. Tell me stories. Unprotect me, taint me, share my fries.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.