Sobremesa xiii.

Everybody has to eat…

…even white supremacists.

Recently, a respected columnist I follow highlighted a TED Talk by Daryl Davis— “Why I as a Black Man Attend KKK Rallies”

Following an incident when he was 10 years old, he asked, “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”

I harbor a deep aversion to any white supremacy, Christian nationalism, or “Curse of Ham” theories. Yet I would have a hard time trying to do what Mr. Davis does… and I’m a white guy! 

Watching his story left me thinking about our Christian witness. We categorize many lifestyles, worldviews, and opinions as inconsistent with Bible teaching. How we interact with that reality is a measure of how well we emulate our Master.

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day worked overtime to find fault with him. Sometimes, it feels like they were grasping at straws…

Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!  (Luke 7:34, ESV)

These guys owned the art of public shaming. And we think “cancel culture” is a new thing…?

Cancel culture…is a modern form of ostracism… [It is] a variant on the term call-out culture and constitutes a form of boycotting or shunning. Cancel Culture

Sadly, cancel culture goes to church with us, too. It’s like thorny blackberry bushes overtaking our yard. Why do we find it easier to caricature people on the other side of an argument and treat them like the enemy?

And the Pharisees weren’t finished yet. Here’s an even sleazier headline from their gossip column… this one is almost adults only…

And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them."  (Luke 15:2, ESV) 

Religious people need for us to see how unspotted they are by their surroundings. So when they say “a friend of sinners” they point and say “a friend of SINNERS.” When we talk about Jesus, we smile rejoicingly and say “a FRIEND of sinners.”

What does a friend do? A friend receives us. A friend eats with us. Jesus must want to be our friend because we have a standing invitation to eat with him. 

If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  (Revelation 3:20, ESV)

Whose friend are we? Who do we eat with?

In his TED Talk, Mr. Davis sets the bar awfully high. He eats with people who think he is less than they are. He seems to think it’s worth it… maybe a few more white people can be rescued from the pit they are trapped in.

Sobremesa (after-meal table-talk) should be the tactical default setting for God’s vanguard.

Let’s take a break from religious, traditional, and churchy stuff. Let’s do what Jesus did… Let’s find some sinners to eat with. It sounds simple, but we talk more about doing it than actually doing it. Is it because we’re trying to be careful about what kind of people we’re seen with? Or maybe we’re afraid people will find out we don’t have a clue about how to talk to them. 

One thing I miss from Mexico is a “lechero” - a dose of strong coffee in a tall, thick glass filled with hot milk… add sugar to taste. Then choose a piece of fresh ‘pan dulce’ (sweet bread). But what really makes the memory is the people I share the coffee and rolls with. 

If you’re walking with Jesus… expect him to lead you to a sinner’s table… and don’t be surprised when he is not in a hurry to leave.