The banquet table of Christ is for everyone, said Dr. Michael Evans, president of Texas Baptists and pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, and Texas Baptists are compelled to invite others to join the feast.
Evans preached on Luke 14:16-24, the story of a man who was throwing a banquet, during the Monday morning worship session of the 2019 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting.
“We’re called to engage everybody with the message of salvation,” he said. “We are called to invite those without any money to the table. We’re called to invite those who don’t have the physical needs [met], maybe even limited mobility—those who really cannot scratch our backs. We’re called to invite the disillusioned and even the depressed.”
“I love history and I like the words etched on the Statue of Liberty,” Evans said. “‘Give me your tired, give me your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of our teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’
“I like that, but I like what Jesus says better in Matthew 11 when he says, ‘Come to me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’”
He also reminded Texas Baptists to go to Christ’s table in the good times as well as the bad.
“It’s amazing how easy it is to come to that table when we’re in despair,” he said. “When life has taken a tragic turn from normalcy, it’s easy to come to that table. When we’re begging for our life after learning of a detrimental diagnosis, it’s easy to come to the table.”
He highlighted the incredible diversity among Texas Baptists. More than 2,400 of the 5,300 churches in the convention are ethnic churches, and more than 100 languages and 200 dialects are represented, he said.
“We are Anglo and African, we are Asian and African American, Haitian, Hispanic, Western heritage, Indian, Indonesian, Iranian,” Evans said. “We are the face of the state, the nation, and praise God, the world.”
He reminded pastors that each church has its own unique story, mission and assignment.
“What I love about the [Bible] is there is still room,” Evans said. “There is still room to start more churches. There is still room to evangelize our city, our state, our nation and, yes, our world. There is still room to offer hope to the hopeless and to help those who are helpless. There is still room.
“I like it because when I look at my own life I fell in that category before I came to know Jesus,” Evans said. “He says bring the broken to the table, bring the poor in spirit to the table, bring the crippled conscience to the table, bring the spiritually blind to the table, bring the emotionally lame, those who will one day walk again. They will stand in the presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Compel them to Jesus.”