The kingdom of God is like a diner . . . A man walked into it because he was tired and hungry. He slid into a maroon vinyl booth, and as he did, he noticed a man at another booth who had just been served a plate of “comfort food” and was enjoying it. When the waitress arrived, and asked what he would have, he said, “I’ll have exactly what that man is having.” He too was satisfied and pleased with what he received and ate. Grace is like that.
Still, when he got up to leave, the manager asked him to go out through a rear entrance because a crowd had arrived at the front door. Quite renewed by his whole experience up to that point, he responded happily and willing, and went out the back way.
There he discovered that an extension had been added to the dinner, and much construction work was still in progress. Many people were working, hammering and adding boards to a huge deck that stretched almost endlessly across a small parking lot and through a gap in a fortress-like wall that surrounded the massive adjacent community. Some people were sitting on the deck enjoying more food and drink, and many others, almost out of sight, were working at the far end, which stretched through the wall.
“What’s going on here?” asked the man.
“Oh,” said one of the contented diners who was sweaty and dirty but enjoying a cool drink on the deck, “This diner was initially built up against the gates of Hell and has now extended through them. The food is so good that we have made our life here. We work and live on the expanding deck. The boards are supplied from the crosses and the nails of the many martyrs who give up their lives working here.”
A woman at another table said, “Truth is that the diners and workers at far end of the deck receive a lot of abuse from the neighboring community. But they have also convinced a lot of neighborhood people to come around through the front door and check out the food.”
When the man heard all this, he asked if he could go to the far end of the deck, even though he was told how dangerous it was. Someone offered him a meatloaf sandwich and off he went. <
Marc Davis used the diner metaphor in a sermon September 2008 at New Life Presbyterian Church, Glenside, PA. He was preaching from Hebrews: It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace . . . Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise. –from Hebrews 13
Thanks too to C. T. Studd, who said: Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.