Every November the students of our church sponsor an event for the developmentally disabled in our community. We call it the Jesus Prom. We copied the idea from a church in Kentucky who copied it from ......well from Jesus.
We try to give a prom for people who never get invited to a prom.
Our students decorate our gym into a warm, friendly environment. They send out invitations, plan meals and work on music. Previous proms have featured girls in beautiful gowns while the guys wear suits and ties. This year the theme is Country/western. The students will serve meals to our guests. After they clear the tables the fun begins. The lights will be dimmed and the music starts. It might be hard to recognize the actual dancing but our guests come to floor and to join our students.
I love it because at the prom all the labels are dropped. Because of the remarkable example of Jesus, students become selfless.......in fact, they take a genuine interest in others. They have learned that their greatest purpose is to simply love people like Jesus. The prom is an event full of smiles and pictures. Its hard to tell who has more fun.
The prom is an event anticipated for months by both our students and guests. The students feel like they've made a difference. Our guests feel significant.
Once Jesus went to foreign territory with his followers. They were already outside their comfort zone when a persistent, pushy woman ask Jesus to help her daughter who suffered from demon possession. Jesus seemed out of character. First he ignored her. Then he said he was sent only to help people from Israel. Then he equated her status to that of a dog. The guys following Jesus wanted her to leave but she exclaimed, "Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."
At this Jesus commended her faith and granted her request.
Truth is, Jesus was setting up his guys. He wasn't like them. They needed to know that with Jesus everybody counts. Foreign, female, needy, loud, persistent........yep she counts too.
Overcoming biased and treating people kindly has been a challenge to Jesus people for a long time. Intentionally extending love to "the least of these" goes against our culture but it is the way of Jesus.
We are never more like Jesus than when we give our best effort to help those who hurt. Jesus said, "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?"
Jesus loved the unlovable. People like me, totally unworthy of such treatment. But he lavished his grace on me.
I'm looking forward to our Jesus Prom tonight when we can lavish love on our beautiful friends.
Be strong and courageous, Mike