One year ago this week Rachel Held Evans died. She was 37 years old. A remarkable writer and thinker, Rachel's books drew many of us into a world of radical grace that was both new and energizing. Her toolkit was a perfect mix: a relentless curiosity, a tender heart, a brilliant mind, and a deep love for words. Along with other creative artists and writers, she built a movement that gave many people hope and provided a place to belong. That movement still continues today, but Rachel is deeply missed.
People were stunned when she developed serious health problems last year. And they were completely undone when she died. That was one year ago this week.
I loved her books. In fact, I could devote this entire devotional to my favorite inspirational quotes from Rachel Held Evans. But instead of many good quotes, I simply share one quote that means so much to me:
This is what God's kingdom is like:
a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table,
not because they are rich or worthy or good,
but because they are hungry,
because they said yes.
And there's always room for more.
Please don't be offended by the description, but that's really who we are as followers of Jesus: outcasts and oddballs!
Our place at the table is based not on our worth but on Jesus' immense goodness. We are included because of his grace, his invitation, his welcome. And even our ability to accept the invitation is the result of grace.
The church is at its best when it sees itself this way. These days, Christians tend to pursue power and influence and prestige. But followers of Jesus have so much more to offer than those fleeting idols. What we truly have to offer is the reality of a loving God who includes people who do not and cannot deserve what he offers.
In our honest moments, we are dumbfounded that we are included.
What's more, as Rachel Held Evans made clear, there is always room for more. This is one big table! Outcasts and oddballs are forever making room for more outcasts and oddballs.
We shouldn't go out of our way to be odd, of course. That's not the point.
Instead, the point is that it is sheer grace that we have been included.
So we sit at the table and we enjoy a feast that we could never deserve.
And we never forget what a wonder it is . . . to sit at this table.